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Johnson takes eighth win at Martinsville
SoVaNow.com / April 08, 2013Jimmie Johnson became an eight-time winner at Martinsville Speedway Sunday.
Johnson capitalized with a powerful car, leading five times for 346 laps overall. Johnson, who had the no. 1 pit stall after winning the pole, parlayed that advantage into a stout afternoon and the race win in the STP Gas Booster 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
South Boston native Jeff Burton slumped at the end and finished 18th. Burton, struggling with an average finish of 23rd this season heading into Martinsville, had a confidence-building performance much of the afternoon and seemed in position for a possible top ten, but the no. 31 faded at the end.
Johnson, no lower than fourth all afternoon, dominated on a lovely spring afternoon at the paperclip. It was part of an statement-type performance for Hendrick Motorsports. Clint Bowyer had to settle for second, while Jeff Gordon seized third.
Kasey Kahne was fourth and Kyle Busch fifth.
Johnson celebrated his second win of 2013, with the Sprint Cup series heading to Texas Saturday night. Johnson is also the series points’ leader.
Johnson had his fourth top ten finish in 2013, and the veteran now leads the championship points by six points over Brad Keselowski and 12 over Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Hendrick Motorsports broke a tie with Petty Motorsports with its 20th win all-time at Martinsville.
Johnson, who has 62 career wins in 405 Sprint Cup races, is third all-time for wins at Martinsville, with Richard Petty the all-time leader (15).
Johnson had to deal with a final eight-lap shootout after a late red flag incident. No problem for the no. 48. Johnson powered away with a clean restart, without any real overwhelming drama in the final stretch of the race. The most interesting white flag battle came with Busch barely edging reining champion Keselowski for fifth. Johnson seemed to have a smooth ride to the end, but Martinsville took a bite out of Busch, setting up a red flag with 13 laps remaining.
Busch slammed into the turn one wall, creating a fiery caution. Busch’s car was barbecued, and the field came to a complete stop. The incident was caused by brake failure, creating a 6:21-minute red flag.
No one had anything for Johnson at the end.
Earnhardt finished 24th, two laps down, and now stands third in the points.
Jamie McMurray took seventh, Marcus Ambrose was eighth, Greg Biffle was ninth and Mark Martin, subbing for injured Denny Hamlin, was tenth.
There were 12 lead changes among five drivers, as Johnson bolted to a 0.627-second margin of victory. There were 12 cautions for 85 laps.
Danica Patrick had a 12th place effort in her first race in Sprint Cup at Martinsville.
Earnhardt had to deal with a frustrating afternoon at Martinsville, capped by late race contact courtesy of Patrick in turn four. Brian Vickers got an assist for this contact.
The race was rolling along for an extended green flag run, until Vickers cut a tire and spun. The leaders pitted with 50 laps left, with Johnson winning the battle off pit road.
Keselowski got hit with a tough pit road penalty with 47 laps to go, but recovered, finishing sixth.
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