Jeff Gordon Wins in Martinsville
Jeff Gordon drove a flawless race to claim the win in the Advance Auto Parts 500 at the Martinsville Speedway, this despite losing two laps early in the race with a tyre problem which forced him to pit out of schedule
Polesitter Scott Riggs led the field through to the green flag, but just four turns later he and Ryan Newman came together to bring out the yellow flag. Newman, who rolled into the pitlane with a flat tyre, was penalised one lap for stopping on the track.
Jeremy Mayfield led from the green flag on lap eight, from Rusty Wallace and Kevin Harvick, although the yellows were brought out just a few laps later when Jeff Green got lose, which Newman took advantage of to reclaim a lap.
The leaders were unchanged when the greens came out again, everyone holding station until Wallace finally found a way through in traffic for the lead on lap 48. The third yellow was brought out when Carl Edwards spun and cut a tyre, sparking the first round of stops, just after Jeff Gordon lost two laps for an unscheduled stop.
Wallace won the battle of the pitlane, coming out ahead of Bobby Labonte, Mayfield and Harvick and stayed there until Michael Waltrip was helped off track by a nudge from Jeff Green, giving Newman another lucky dog pass.
Labonte and Tony Stewart worked in conjunction to force their way through Wallace and into the lead on lap 115, running together for another 20 laps before Stewart forced his way by his teammate to become the fourth leader of the race.
Dave Blaney suffered a flat tyre on lap 126, stopping just after the pitlane to bring out the yellows once more. The resultant stops saw the lead static, with Stewart, Labonte and Wallace showing the way, quickly reclaiming the lead from a non-stopping Robby Gordon, while a slow stop for Harvick pushed him back to thirteenth.
After almost fifty laps of green flag racing the yellows were pulled out once again when Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers tried to occupy the same section of track. Stewart was quickest out once again, followed by Jeremy Mayfield, Kurt Busch and Labonte when the green flag was shown.
Mayfield pressured his way into the lead on lap 204 but Stewart wasn't done for the day - after heavy pressure he reclaimed the top spot twenty laps later, holding the position through the day's eight caution for a blown Joe Nemechek tyre and yet another stop.
On lap 270 the lead pack consisted of Stewart, Mayfield, Busch, Labonte and Mark Martin, while Harvick's work was done for the day courtesy of a clutch problem.
Elliott Sadler pushed Sterling Martin into a spin a few laps later, with the next green period lasting less than a lap after Dale Earnhardt Jr suffered a deflated tyre. The top five remained untouched, although on lap 305 Kyle Busch was forced into the pits due to radiator problems.
On lap 321 a Jeff Green spin brought the eleventh caution period, and yet more stops for the leaders. Mayfield was flagged for speeding in the pitlane meaning a change at the front, with Stewart now leading the way from Busch, Labonte and Martin.
Mayfield was desperately unlucky with his tyres - his right front went flat on lap 353 forcing him three laps down after a green flag stop after limping into the pits.
25 laps later the twelfth caution period was caused by a Kyle Petty spin, with Labonte, Busch, Martin, Stewart and Wallace, leading away from another stop, with Busch muscling his way into the lead on lap 400 before a Dale Jarrett spin slowed the pack a few laps later.
Stewart suffered a truly strange problem when the centre of his right front wheel broke, leaving the tyre to bounce around the track alone. Busch and Martin were the quickest out of the pits, but they were behind Newman, Sterling Martin and Elliott Sadler on track, as the trio didn't stop with the former leaders.
Ten laps into the next green flag period Kurt Busch came down off the high side and into a storming Jeff Gordon, creating yet another yellow flag period on lap 447. Just back into green racing Sterling Martin tore by Newman to claim the lead, ahead of Mark Martin, a recovered Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
Astonishingly Gordon, who had been as many as three laps down earlier in the race, claimed the lead on lap 466, opening out a 2.5 second lead as he worked his way around the track, with Kahne and Newman moving up behind him.
With just nine laps to go Travis Kvapil blew his engine spectacularly, causing the final caution period and a breather period for the drivers ahead of a green-white, single file restart with two to go. Gordon had enough in reserve to hold off Kahne, Martin, Newman and Wallace to claim an incredible win in Martinsville.
The results of the Advance Auto Parts 500 at the Martinsville Speedway:
Pos Driver Team Laps 1. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 500 2. Kasey Kahne Dodge 500 3. Mark Martin Ford 500 4. Ryan Newman Dodge 500 5. Rusty Wallace Dodge 500 6. Sterling Marlin Dodge 500 7. Ricky Rudd Ford 500 8. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 500 9. Elliott Sadler Ford 500 10. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 500 11. Matt Kenseth Ford 500 12. Jason Leffler Chevrolet 500 13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 500 14. Dale Jarrett Ford 500 15. Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 499 16. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 499 17. Casey Mears Dodge 499 18. Kyle Petty Dodge 498 19. Kurt Busch Ford 498 20. Robby Gordon Chevrolet 498 21. Scott Riggs Chevrolet 498 22. Jeff Green Dodge 497 23. Mike Wallace Chevrolet 497 24. Ken Schrader Dodge 496 25. Jamie McMurray Dodge 496 26. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 493 27. Travis Kvapil Dodge 490 28. Kevin Lepage Dodge 489 29. Greg Biffle Ford 487 30. Michael Waltrip Chevrolet 477 31. Scott Wimmer Dodge 466 32. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 436 33. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 435 34. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 416 35. Brian Vickers Chevrolet 412 36. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 410 37. Hermie Sadler Ford 340 38. Carl Edwards Ford 321 39. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 304 40. Bobby Hamilton Jr. Chevrolet 151 41. Johnny Sauter Dodge 55 42. Randy LaJoie Chevrolet 27 43. Mike Garvey Dodge 18
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