After two green-white-checkereds, Ryan Newman would come out on top, scoring his first Grandfather clock at Martinsville Speedway.
“No doubt an impressive day for us,” Newman says. “For me to take us out of the game and we ended up going a lap down because of my speeding penalty, and the guys did an awesome job in giving us the car to make the changes.”
With three laps to go, the race for the win looked like to be between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. However, a caution for David Reuitmann stalling on track would bring out the caution. Gordon and Johnson both chose to stay out, well the rest of the lead lap cars pitted for tires.
The speed difference between old and new tires would be clearly evident on the restart and Clint Bowyer went for the jump, diving under both Gordon and Johnson in turn one. The result was all three cars going for a spin, while Newman snuck his way through.
Then on the next green-white-checkered, Newman would hold off A.J. Allmendinger to score the 16th victory of his career.
“We were not a dominant race car today but we put ourselves in contention,” Newman continues. “The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires and Clint kind of clearing out turn one for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
“We have been in that position here and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's nice to be able to at least balance it out and get Outback in victory lane. That was really special for us, their first race with the team and if we get in the Top-10, we get free Bloomin' Onions if you go to Outback and mention my name. Not sure, they might be rethinking that after this week.”
The second place finish for Allmendinger marks his first top 10 finish in 2012.
“More than anything, just proud of the day,” Allmendinger says. “We were pretty bad all weekend, and struggling and Todd Gordon and the guys, they went to work. Ultimately it's just about trying to learn each other, learn what I need in the race car. He made some really good changes overnight, and you know, we had a solid Top-10 car. I don't think it was a second-place car.
“Jimmie and Jeff and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) were the class of the field by the end there. I felt like we had a really long-run car. Good forward drive, and ultimately, our new tires were just a little bit tight so that's what got us there on the restart. But all in all, just really proud of the day and my crew; my spotter, Crazy, he was doing a good job, just everybody was really solid on the Shell Pennzoil Dodge. Hopefully we can take this momentum and learn from what we learned today and take it into the off week and keep building on it going into Texas.”
Earnhardt Jr. would finish third after making contact with Gordon and Bowyer in that wreck for his 14th top 10 finish at Martinsville.
“I'm real happy with our finish,” he says. “We worked really hard all day, all weekend really we worked hard to obviously get the best finish we could. This is our first race with AMP on the hood, and we are proud to have a good finish for those guys, had a lot of people here in weekend.
“Really, the race, the car was good on the long runs. Obviously drove up there and passed Jeff for the lead and at the end of the race drove back into the top three there, and so the car was really good on the long runs. We didn't have short run speed. We didn't have enough to run with really with a lot of people in the first 20 laps.
“But after the lap 45 or so, I thought our car was great, really comfortable and doing everything I wanted it to do. Really, really fun race. This is a fun racetrack. I was really happy with how the race was playing out there until the end. We totalled both sides off my car at the end of the race. Felt unnecessary to me but that's the way it happened.”
Matt Kenseth would finish fourth with Martin Truex Jr. in fifth. Denny Hamlin got sixth, followed by Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski and Bowyer.
“It was just a bad situation for everybody,” Bowyer says. “I had a good day; clearly those hendrick cars were the class of the field. I don’t know what the 10 car (Reuitmann) was doing there, just drove around for 10 laps with no brakes and then stopped. I feel bad for our guys, I feel bad for those guys.”
Reuitmann, who finished 35th, says he never meant to have that big of an effect on the finish.
“I hate that I was involved in anything that changed the outcome of the race; I apologize to them,” he says. “We had a tie rod come off and we were trying to limp around to therefore stay in the top 35. Then we had a motor issue and it just stopped. If I could’ve, I would’ve got off the track but I guess the timing belt came off and it just stopped. I can’t get out of the car and push it. I wouldn’t just go out and stop on purpose.”
The wreck resulted in Johnson finishing 12th with Gordon in 14th.
“We just restarted and got going – that inside line is easy for dive bombing on people,” Johnson says. “The 15 (Bowyer) threw a dive bomb in there and I think when he got in there, he realized it was the wrong move. He got into me and I went around, he went around.”
“Well, Clint and I are friends and I have a lot of respect for him,” Gordon, who led 328 of 500 laps, says. “I’m glad I talked to him before I talked to you guys because he said he got hit from behind from the 39 (Newman). When we had that restart, we couldn’t get going and he had nowhere to go. I didn’t want to see that caution as I was having fun trying to beat the 48 (Johnson).”
Greg Biffle finished 13th to remain the points leader, now six points over Earnhardt Jr.