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Week 6 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series did not disappoint with enough twists and turns to keep fans on the edge of their seat. It wasn’t the movie thriller that fans expected, but the STP Gas Booster 500 At Martinsville Speedway proved to be entertaining. An eleven-car pileup, 12 caution flags, and a car on fire, was small potatoes compared to what went down two weeks ago.
To recap two weeks ago, the Auto Club 400 seemed to have taken a page from a Hollywood script. Between the bottle throwing, fights, and a driver being flown by helicopter to the hospital, many held on to their seats to see what if any retaliation would come to Joey Logano in the first race after NASCAR’s Easter break. If you missed the Auto Club 400, the never-ending saga between Logano and Denny Hamlin’s came to a boil with Hamlin ending up in the hospital and Tony “Smoke” Stewart” delivering a cuss word-ladened press conference thanks to Logano throwing a water bottle at him after the race.
Fast forward to this week everyone except Kurt Busch would probably think Martinsville was mild compared to the Auto Club 400. Let’s just say his day was rather heated but then cooled really fast thanks to a very fiery engine. “Something happened with the brakes,” Busch said. His car caught on fire igniting his engine into a blaze of flames. With less than 15 laps to go, Busch hit the wall when his brakes failed causing his engine to become engulfed. Luckily he was able to hit the fire extinguisher button in his car, which cooled off the car and let him escape safely. Earlier in the race, Busch’s car got tangled with Logano’s car, causing issues with his left-front tire. At lap 292 he spun out after being hit from behind by another driver and at lap 351 he was forced into the garage for repairs after experiencing fuel problems. “It was a rough day, no doubt about that,” said Busch.
Danica Patrick brought out the first caution of the day, but she would recuperate to have an impressive day at Martinsville. Aside from contact made between her and Dale Jr. during lap 465 which sent Dale spinning, Danica had an awesome day. She finished 12th in her first Sprint Cup Series Race at Martinsville, while her boss Tony Stewart finished 17th. “I got behind Danica and I couldn’t pass her,” said Clint Bowyer. Martin Truex Jr., who was filling in for Denny Hamlin finished 10th. “I did not fill Denny Hamlin’s shoes, I can tell you that much,” he said. Hamlin who has four career victories at Martinsville is expected to be out at least another four weeks after his horrific crash at the Auto Club 400.
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer also ran well placing second and third. While many were still waiting to see if there would be any more fallout from the Logano and Hamlin feud or the Logano and Stewart saga, some still remembered that the Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer long- standing beef started at Martinsville last year. The two didn’t reignite their infamous feud, which definitely was one of the ugliest in the past year. In fact, after the race both sat next to each other and were very cordial during the post race press conference. “I think third was a great finish for us and I’m happy,” said Bowyer who was involved in an 11-car wreck on lap 180 when he ran into Jamie McMurray who finished 7th.
Jimmie Johnson held off Bowyer and Gordon for his eighth victory at Martinsville Speedway. With his 2nd victory of the 2013 season, Johnson took the number one spot in the Cup standings from Dale Jr. With his win at Martinsville and four top ten finishes for the year, Johnson is now six points ahead of Brad Keselowski who finished 6th and is now in 2nd place in the Cup standings. Dale Jr. is now 3rd in the cup standings after an unimpressive 24th finish at Martinsville. “It was really up to me to not mess it up as the weekend went on. There’s a feel to this track, and the history we have – 10, 11 years now of coming here and doing this, we just draw on and fall back on,” Johnson said.