Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent
Late-race caution shakes things up at Martinsville
After going a lap down because of a pit road speeding penalty in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Ryan Newman drove his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to the checkered flag and into victory lane with the help of a caution brought out by the No. 10 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet of David Reutimann with four laps to go.
"It was just circumstances with the 10 there," Newman said in victory lane. "Circumstances put us in that position."
A.J. Allmendinger finished second in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
It was just circumstances with the 10 there. Circumstances put us in that position.
Hendrick Motorsports, in search of its 200th Sprint Cup Series win, dominated the race, with HMS drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson combining to lead 440 laps of the 500-lap event. Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet led a race-high 328 laps, and Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was up front for 112 laps. Earnhardt also led briefly just before the halfway point of the race.
Gordon passed the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick on lap 22 and led most of the way until he was passed by Johnson on lap 355.
Denny Hamlin became the first non-Hendrick Motorsports driver to lead the race since its early laps when his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota got off pit road first during a caution that came out on lap 361.
Johnson reassumed the lead from Hamlin with 111 laps remaining. Gordon also got by Hamlin to assume the second position. Earnhardt then moved into third with 44 laps to go to give HMS the top-three positions in the running order.
The three Hendrick drivers continued to run first through third until Earnhardt, along with everyone else except Gordon and Johnson, pitted for fuel and tires when the yellow flag came out with four laps to go.
Gordon had retaken the lead from Johnson just before the caution came out and restarted first with Johnson alongside in second. On older tires, Gordon and Johnson were much slower on the restart than the cars behind them. As the faster cars tried to get by Gordon, Johnson and the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer were collected in the resulting pileup.
"The 15 threw a dive bomb in there," Johnson said of the cause of the wreck. "It is what it is. We still got a decent finish out of it."
Johnson wound up finishing 12th, as Bowyer finished 10th and Gordon 14th.
"Those two guys (Johnson and Gordon) were on 100-and-some-lap tires, so I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, honestly," Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth in the Roush Fenway Racing Ford, said. "I just tried to watch what was going on, and I slowed way up for the wreck and I think that's maybe how A.J. got there, but I didn't want to get caught up in a wreck at the end."
After reviewing loop data, Newman was determined to be the new leader for the final restart of the race, with Allmendinger in second and Earnhardt third.
The three held their positions through the second green-white-checker attempt to finish the race in that same order. Martin Truex Jr. finished fifth in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.