After spinning on lap 206, Kurt Busch would rally back winning his second career Winston Cup race at Martinsville. Busch was able to hold off a hard charge by Johnny Benson in the races final four laps. Busch came from the 36th starting position...
After spinning on lap 206, Kurt Busch would rally back winning his second career Winston Cup race at Martinsville. Busch was able to hold off a hard charge by Johnny Benson in the races final four laps. Busch came from the 36th starting position to get the win, the deepest in the field anyone has ever started to win at this track. "Who hates this place more than me?" Said Busch. "Ford was awesome, we could just put it down, run long runs. It's been a long time since Rubbermaid was in victory lane; we got Sharpie in there earlier. Who knew about these short tracks? I have no idea why we run so good a them, since I like the 1.5's better."
Benson raced Busch clean at the end choosing not to put the bumper to the #97, "The Valvoline Pontiac was great," Said Benson. "Kurt drove a pretty good race. I'm really happy with these guys, they did a tremendous job; wish I could have won it for them. But Kurt did a great job, I congratulate them."
Hope for a fifth championship for Jeff Gordon was further dashed by an incident on lap 250. Gordon hit the wall after contact with the #99 Ford of Jeff Burton sustaining left front fender damage. He would have to come to pit road under green for the team to pull sheet metal off his left side, and take on 4 tires. Gordon would fall 3 laps down, finishing 36th, 291 points out of first.
Point's leader, Tony Stewart rallied from his 31st starting position, leading a lap to collect 5 bonus points, but would suffer fender damage mid-race that prompted poor handling for the #20 Pontiac the rest of the day. Stewart's problems continued to mount as the race wound down, he would lose several positions in the races final pit stops, going in 10th and leaving 15th. Stewart finished 15th, losing 15 points to second place Jimmie Johnson, Stewart leads Johnson by 82 points.
Steve Grissom, driving the #44 Dodge for the injured Jerry Nadeau, would bounce off the #48 of Jimmie Johnson under the caution flag, causing damage to the left rear wheel of the #48 car. Johnson was running fifth; Grissom was several laps down in 40th. Johnson would manage to finish 6th. "Very pleased with everything all day long. Great day, pit stops were good, car was good. Didn't break a gear like last time. Picked up some points on everyone, so it was good." Said Johnson.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. brought home a career best 4th place finish at Martinsville for the Budweiser Chevrolet. "It ended up better than I expected," Junior commented. "Tony Jr. and the guys made several adjustments on the car each stop. Man, you just had to fight for every inch. I can't recall ever racing that hard before. The way the track was you had to; the only way to get by a guy was to drive through the side of him a little bit. Everybody sort of understood that, everybody put up with it."
Pole-sitter, Newman ran close to the front all day, but was never a contender for the win. He did manage to pick up some spots on the races final pit stop, coming in 15th and leaving 4th. His car, however, could not stay out front and slipped back to 15th, where Newman would finish 1 lap down.
Ricky Craven, who won his first Winston Cup race at Martinsville last year in his 174th start, led the race several times during the day, however, his car's handling would start to wane in the races closing laps, Craven salvaged a 7th place finish.
Rounding out the top ten were Ricky Rudd (3), Ward Burton (5), Dale Jarrett (8), Rusty Wallace (9) and Mark Martin (10).
The much discussed track resurfacing did not seem to affect the competition as many had expected. Many teams were concerned that the rougher surface would cause excessive tire wear, that, however, did not seem to be the case in Sunday's race. Both grooves of the track were in play, and complaints from the driver's were minimal.
Hideo Fukuyama, making his second Winston Cup start, did not find much success. Tony Stewart said of Fukuyama's decision to run Martinsville, "This will be the longest day of his life." Stewart's comment seemed prolific by days end, Fukuyama would bring out caution #11, at lap 409 slamming the #66 car into the wall. He would finish where he started, in 43rd.