MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS team brought Team Chevy to Victory Lane for the third time in the first six races of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hendrick Motorsports now has 20 victories at Martinsville Speedway, the most of any organization. The win marks Johnson’s eighth trip to Winner’s Circle at the 0.526-mile short-track, placing him in third on the all-time track win list; more than any active driver on the circuit. The No. 48 Chevy SS dominated the competition leading 346 of the 500 laps and now retakes the point lead by six markers over second position. Chevrolet has now won the last five straight races at Martinsville Speedway.
Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, posted his 33rd top-10 finish in 41 races at Martinsville Speedway. The solid run moved Gordon up six positions in the point standings and into the 12th spot. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, recorded his third top-five finish at the circuit’s oldest track. Kahne gained two positions in the point standings and now occupies the fifth position. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet SS, recorded his 11th top-10 finish in 21 starts at Martinsville Speedway. His seventh-place finish is his best run thus far this season. McMurray moved up three positions in the point standings to 13th.
Stewart Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick, No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet SS, made a valiant run after recovering from an early spin to record a 12th-place finish in her first start at Martinsville Speedway. Patrick is the only woman to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville Speedway and was the top finishing rookie. Richard Childress Racing’s Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, came home 13th followed by Tony Stewart, No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, in 17th. Virginia native Jeff Burton, No. 31 Childress Institute of Pediatric Trauma Chevrolet SS, finished 18th followed by his Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet SS, in 19th.
Clint Bowyer (Toyota) finished second and Kyle Busch (Toyota) rounded out the top-five with a fifth-place finish.
The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next week for the NRA 500 on Saturday, April 13th.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER
FOR THE EIGHTH TIME YOU WIN AT MARTINSVILLE. EVERY WIN HAS A STORY. YOU HAD A HUNGRY GUY BEHIND YOU THERE IN CLINT BOWYER. WHAT WAS THE STORY OF THIS WIN? “It was just a long-fought day. Martinsville stays the same over the years and you just have to dig-in and get into a rhythm and drive your own race and see how things unfold at the end and how things happen. Fortunately we didn’t have any craziness with two tires or four tires at the end. I feel like the fastest car won the race. It was a very standard Martinsville race; although I thought some guys might peel off and take tires. It was just a hard race. This race track is tough to get around. But we have a great notebook. I’ve got to thank (crew chief) Chad Knaus and all my guys and everybody back home at Hendrick Motorsports. I want to encourage everybody, if you didn’t go already today, to go to Lowe’s and buy some stuff. It’s springtime. Life is good. We’ve had two wins this year.”
YOU SAID WHEN YOU ARE GOOD AT A TRACK, SOMETHING JUST STICKS. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO HOLD OFF CLINT BOWYER AND JEFF GORDON? “I think the last stop or two we really got our car adjusted right and got some clean air and track position, which was very important. For a period of time there, I kind of thought Matt Kenseth was going to win this thing and he hates this race track. I couldn’t believe he ran that well here today. I’ve got to give him a hard time about that. Just as the day wore on and we got to the end, they were flawless on pit road and I did my job on the race track to maintain track position, and we could control the race at that point. Being stuck on the outside lane on a restart would have been the death of whoever was out there. Fortunately we had control of the race late and held off a lot of hard-charging guys.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED THIRD
AT THE END, DESCRIBE THAT FINAL RESTART “Well, we just didn’t need those cautions there at the end. I made a mistake on pit road and got us way behind. But, what an incredible effort for this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team. They had good pit stops and then they also made great adjustments. We were real tight there at the middle part of the race. And then boy that thing just took off. And on the long runs, I feel like we had the best car. But you know those cautions are going to come out there. We tried to free it up. We just didn’t get it quite freed-up enough. So, I was just trying to get the front end to cut and I knew that we just didn’t quite have it. We just needed more laps there at the end. Congratulations to Jimmie (Johnson, race winner) though; yes he is so impressive here but the thing that impresses me the most are those darn poles! Where did that come from? He used to at least give us a shot when he would qualify like 15th. So when those guys get that number one pit stall they’re almost impossible to beat. It was a lot of fun. We needed that third place finish. So I’m very proud of this team.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 NOVO NORDISK CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED SEVENTH
YOU HAD A REALLY STRONG RUN AND WHAT LOOKED LIKE AN EVENTFUL DAY WHAT WAS IT LIKE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? “We had a really good car at the beginning of the race. Even if we fell back I could get back in the top five and then after that little incident we got in. I don’t know, I thought the car was going to be better without the bumper cover on it. In the wind tunnel that is a big advantage. I was actually kind of pumped up that it got ripped off. The car just wasn’t as good after that. I think the track, even though you couldn’t see rubber, the track got tighter and tighter as the race went on. We adjusted for it, but just didn’t have enough speed there at the end. Made a good pit call at the end and got a couple of extra spots. That was a really good day for us.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 10 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 12TH
YOUR FIRST TIME AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY. DID YOU IMPRESS YOURSELF? “I don’t know. I think you take what the car gives you and Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a really good track record here, he is a great crew chief, and my car was good all day. We kind of balanced her out after being a little loose to a little tight but we got the GoDaddy.com car back up there. We obviously went down real early with that spin and then were two laps down at one point. So I feel that is one of the things that I am most proud about is coming back from two laps down and being on the last lap. Then grabbing a 12th place finish in the end was good and I think it was the right call to stay out because I don’t think tires were quite worth enough to pit, so it was a good run today.”
TELL US ABOUT THE END OF THE RACE: “Yeah, well, never being at Martinsville before, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that it was going to be a little bit crazy. The bumping and banging sure gets going. I tried to guard the inside right there at the end and then (Brian) Vickers gave me a bump and I get it. I was trying to defend and hold my position. We still came away with a 12th place finish. It was good to do that for GoDaddy and obviously Hendrick Engines was very strong today. I felt like I made a lot of passes. I feel like I just passed all day. But I’m sure a lot of people do that on a short track. It was a nice day for us. It was nice to have a good weekend. We’ve had quite a few bad ones since Daytona. So, we’ll take this and get rolling into the summer because we don’t have a break until July.”
THERE WAS A LOT OF DOUBT ABOUT HOW YOU WOULD TAKE ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY. YOU IMPRESSED A LOT OF PEOPLE TODAY. DID YOU IMPRESS YOURSELF? “I don’t know. I think you take what the car gives you. Tony Gibson (crew chief) has a really good track record here. He’s a great crew chief. And my car was pretty good all day. We kind of bounced around from being a little loose to a little tight but we got the GoDaddy car back up there. We obviously went down real early with that spin and were two laps down at one point in time. So I feel like that’s almost one of the things I’m most proud of is coming back from two laps down to being on the lead lap and then grabbing a 12th place at the end was good and I think it was the right call to stay out because I don’t think tires were quite worth enough to pit. So it was a good run today.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/SERTA CHEVROLET SS – FINISHED 37th
WHAT HAPPENED THERE AT THE END THAT RESULTED IN CONTACT WITH THE WALL? “Something let go in the brakes. The brakes got real spongy and then the pedal went straight to the floor. I had to turn the car to the right otherwise I was going to hit harder than what we did. Fuel pump issue and then a brake issue, bummer day for the Furniture Row guys. They work really hard and we buy a lot of the same parts all the big teams do we just had some bad luck today.”
QUICK THINKING BY YOU TO PULL THAT FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN THERE ARE YOU OKAY? “Yeah, just couldn’t get the window net down as quick as I needed to so we will look at exactly what that was. It’s one of those things where we were running 38th 20 laps down what more can go wrong? But I will find it out there for sure.”