Ah Martinsville. Nothing like a short track with little banking and no room for error. Throughout the race, NASCAR fans saw several instances of spin outs and tire troubles. In the end, Jeff Gordon overcame everything short of concrete induced damage, coming from three laps down to claim his second win of the season. It was an emotional win for the Hendrick camp, and it is now common knowledge that Martinsville will always be close to the hearts of the organization. Now that the dust has settled and the points are official, its time to take a look at the highlights of the Advance Auto Parts 500.
The Top driver of the day was without question Ricky Rudd. Seeing the Wood Brothers 21 car maintain a position inside the top 10 throughout the day. Ricky had a true chance of winning the Martinsville event, however seemed unable to contend for the win in the closing laps. After a strong performance, Rudd earned his first top 10 of the season, and climbed within the top 35 in points.
Jeff Gordon had the best team of the day. A team that can overcome being three laps off the leader, only to rally back and claim the victory is a team determined for the championship. The 24 team showed determination and dedication to their driver and to their fans, and climbed six positions in the points championship. Gordon is now sixth in the championship, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 205 points.
After a season of dissapointment, Bobby Labonte was ready to return to victory lane at Martinsville. After spending much of the afternoon contending for the win, Labonte soon suffered engine troubles, resulting in a 33rd place DNF. To add insult to injury, Labonte fell three positions in the points standings, and is currently 37th in the championship standings. After having dreams of victory snatched from his grasp, Bobby Labonte suffered the top dissapointment of the race.
The top surprise of the day came early in the race, when Bristol winner Kevin Harvick suffered clutch troubles and finished 32 in the race. What was more surprising than the mechanical trouble, Harvick fell 7 positions in the championship standings, currently sitting in 13th place in the race for the chase.
Jeff Green gets an “attaboy” for his actions during Sunday’s race. After all, when a driver spins in front of a large pack of cars without hitting anything is often an accomplishment. When a driver spins SEVERAL times in a single race, and then to finish just shy of a top 20 finish is amazing.
Next week, the stars of NASCAR return to high speeds when they take on the Texas Motor Speedway. Following a second place run at Martinsville, I do believe Kasey Kahne has a great chance at victory next weekend. Of course, look for last years winner Elliot Sadler to make an attempt at defending his trophy.
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