Johnson at His Dominant Best in Eighth Martinsville Victory
Jimmie Johnson celebrates after winning the STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Martinsville, Va. — Jimmie Johnson dominated Martinsville Speedway again.
Johnson led a career-best 346 laps and pulled away on a restart with eight laps to go for his eighth career victory at Martinsville Speedway yesterday.
“It was just a long, tough day,” Johnson said after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. “Martinsville, it stays the same over the years, and you just have to dig in and get your own rhythm. Fortunately, the fastest car won the race.”
The victory moved Johnson into third place in career victories on the shortest track in the Sprint Cup Series, trailing only Richard Petty, who won here 15 times, and Darrell Waltrip, who won 11 times.
It also made team owner Rich Hendrick’s organization the winningest team in Martinsville history with 20, breaking a tie it had with the Petty organization.
“I think the last stop or two, we really got our car adjusted right,” Johnson said.
The five-time series champion picked the inside line for the final restart with Clint Bowyer on the outside, teammate Jeff Gordon behind him and Kyle Busch to his outside, and Johnson got a clean break for the lead into Turn 1.
Bowyer slid into second and Busch, who tried to make a move on the outside line, instead got hung up out there as Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, who restarted fifth, went underneath to take fourth.
Nothing changed the rest of the way and the top five finished in those positions.
Danica Patrick, whose boss, Tony Stewart, said earlier in the week he thought it would be funny to watch her try to navigate her way around the track, got passed by his rookie driver with 19 laps to go. Patrick finished 12, Stewart 17th.
IRL: Hunter-Reay Wins
Birmingham, Ala. — Ryan Hunter-Reay ended Penske Racing’s domination at Barber Motorsports Park by holding off Scott Dixon to win the IndyCar Series race.
Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power had won IndyCar’s three previous races at Barber, but Hunter-Reay beat both for the pole.
The defending IndyCar champion ran a steady race, holding strong in one intense battle for position with both Penske drivers, to claim his first win of the season.
Dixon finished second for the fourth consecutive year on the Alabama road course.
Castroneves was third and Charlie Kimball was a career-best fourth. Power was fifth.
AJ Allmendinger ran seventh for most of his IndyCar debut but finished 19th after stalling his car during his final pit stop.