Mark Martin, driving in place of the injured Tony Stewart, was poised for a strong finish in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Crew chief Steve Addington, acting as a field general in coordinating the chaos of the garage, got Martin back onto the racetrack, avoiding a dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish). Martin returned to the track 44 laps down in a racecar missing it fenders and hood. But the car was still fast, and Martin nursed it to a 36th-place finish.
“Man, that was a shame,” Martin said. “We had a good car, and we were making it better. It was a top-10 car, maybe even a top-five car. There was a lot of racing still to go when we got caught up in that wreck. Nothing we could do there, but this team worked really hard to fix our Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy quickly and get it back onto the track. They never quit.”
The Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 was Martin’s 50th Sprint Cup race at Martinsville. His first start at the paperclip-shaped track came Sept. 27, 1981 driving a Pontiac for Bud Reeder. Martin started fifth and finished third while leading 40 laps. It was the first of his 271 top-five finishes in a career that stands at 879 Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS, led the way for SHR at Martinsville by finishing 17th. It was her eighth top-20 of the season. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 14 spots ahead of Stenhouse, who placed 31st.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 38th. Newman ran as high as third before being tagged by Kevin Harvick on lap 319. The contact sent Newman backward into the turn one wall, causing extensive damage that sent Newman to the garage for lengthy repairs. He eventually returned to the track, 68 laps down.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the seventh race of the 10-race Chase 11th among the 13 Chase drivers, 72 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson. Newman leaves Martinsville in 12th, 106 points behind Chase leaders Matt Kenseth and Johnson, who are tied for the point lead.
Jeff Gordon won the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 to score his 88th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his eighth at Martinsville. His victory clinched the 2013 manufacturer’s title for Chevrolet, the brand’s 37th in the Sprint Cup Series and 11th in a row.
Kenseth finished .605 of a second behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Johnson rounded out the top-five. Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 17 caution periods for 111 laps, with six drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the eighth race of the 10-race Chase – is the AAA 500 Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race begins at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.