- Last Updated on 08:23 AM 04/02/12
- BY Joe Chandler
MARTINSVILLE — On a day when Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson were on the verge of giving Hendrick Motorsports its 200th victory, Ryan Newman was the spoiler. Or, rather it was a late caution that resulted when David Reutimann’s car came to a stop on the track with three laps to go that proved to be the spoiler.
The caution created a chaotic restart that saw Clint Bowyer, Gordon and Johnson, who were battling for the lead, wreck as Bowyer attempted to make it three-wide in the first turn.
That mishap opened the door for Newman and A.J. Allmendinger to jump into the top two spots. Allmendinger and Newman battled hard for the two green-flag laps that followed the lap 513 restart, with Newman pulling away to edge Allmendinger by .342 second to score his first win of the season.
“We were not a dominant racecar,” Newman said of the win that saw him rally from a one-lap penalty he incurred for speeding on pit road earlier in the race.
“When the 10 (Reutimann) did what he did, it certainly put us in position. We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. It’s just racing.”
Bowyer, who took a shot at the win on what many people felt would be the final restart of the race, said he got hit by Newman from behind.
“It was just a bad situation for everybody. Three of those Hendrick cars (Gordon, Johnson and Earnhardt) were the class of the field all day long. I don’t know what the hell the 10 car (Reutimann) was doing. He drove around for 10 laps with no brakes and finally just stopped. That was ridiculous.”
Bowyer said if he had not made the move that he made on Gordon and Johnson, Newman would have.
“We’d just all run out of real estate and that’s the nature of the beast at this place,” he remarked.
“They (Hendrick Motorsports) had the cars to beat. They should have won the race and we should have finished fourth.”
Johnson, who appeared to be on the verge of breaking a two-year Martinsville Speedway win drought, took a philosophical approach.
“It is what it is - it’s short track racing,” Johnson remarked.
“I really thought we had a good chance to give Rick Hendrick his 200th win.”
Gordon, who dominated much of the race, said he initially was mad at Bowyer for taking away his opportunity to win the race, but changed his opinion after talking to his team.
‘He (Bowyer) said he got hit from behind by the 39 (Newman), and my team told me that as well,” Gordon noted.
“We had several good battles with the 48 (Johnson). My car was pretty good on (corner) entry and his (Johnson’s) was better on exit. It’s just the way our year has been.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, with Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex rounded out the top five finishers.
Virginian Denny Hamlin, defending series champion Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, Brad Kesolowski and Bowyer rounded out the top ten finishers. Johnson finished 12th and Gordon finished 14th.
South Boston native Jeff Burton finished 22nd after encountering trouble and falling three laps off of the pace. He was strong in the early going, running in the top five at one point in the race.
Gordon was the dominant force in the race, leading six times for a total of 328. Johnson also had a good afternoon, leading three times for a total of 112 laps.
Newman averaged 78.823 mph in the race that went 515 laps, the longest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at the track. The race was slowed by seven caution periods that consumed 56 laps.
There were 19 lead changes among 10 drivers, with Gordon and Johnson leading the overwhelming majority of the race.