Winner: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the ...
Winner: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports
Top-five finishers: Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon
Race recap: Jimmie Johnson took advantage of having the race's dominant car by holding off Denny Hamlin over a six-lap sprint to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
Johnson led seven times for a total of 245 laps around the tight, flat, half-mile track -- the most of any driver. He and teammate Jeff Gordon combined to lead the first 255 laps on the day that featured 16 lead changes among five drivers. The race was also slowed by 18 caution flags for a total of 107 laps.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was the problem of now-former Chase points leader Jeff Burton. Coming into the race with a 45-point advantage over his nearest rival, Burton's car suffered motor problems and he finished 42nd, dropping him to fifth in the overall standings.
A mere 48 points separate the top five slots in NASCAR's Chase playoffs. Matt Kenseth is the new leader, with a 36-point cushion over Kevin Harvick. With his victory, Johnson is now in third place overall, 41 points behind Kenseth. Then comes Hamlin down by 47, with Burton at 48.
The Nextel Cup Series is back in action at Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday, which is the seventh of 10 "playoff" races that will determine this year's champion.
Goodyear quote from Phil Holmer, marketing manager for stock car racing: "We saw very minimal wear with our tires this past weekend at Martinsville, to the point of teams going consecutive green-flag fuel runs without having to change four tires. At this time of year, when championship fortunes are being determined, it's a great comfort for these NASCAR teams to know that our Goodyear Eagles and Wranglers will perform so well on a weekly basis."
Companion event: Jack Sprague won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville on Saturday. Sprague started from the pole and led the first 33 laps before yielding the top spot to Ted Musgrave when choosing to pit. Musgrave paced the field for the next 105 cicuits before being penalized for an illegal restart, handing the top spot back to Sprague. He then controlled the rest of the race for the victory. Todd Bodine leads the championship standings by 79 points over Johnny Benson after 21 of 25 events.
-credit: goodyear racing