Kyle Busch led the Joe Gibbs Racing team with a third-place finish in today’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, while teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano finished 12th and 13th respectively.
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Busch started the No. 18 Pedigree Toyota in the 11th position but quickly ascended through the top ten to earn the top spot on lap 78. Busch would race inside the top five throughout the day and managed to lead six times on the day for a race-high total of 151 laps. He appeared set to claim his first-ever victory at Martinsville as he led the field to the green flag on the day’s final restart on lap 471. However, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was able to get to his bumper nine laps later and move Busch up the track to claim the lead. Much like last week in California the biggest beneficiary would be Kevin Harvick, who managed to get around both Busch and Earnhardt, Jr. in the closing laps to claim the victory. Busch would finish third just behind the No. 88 car.
Hamlin entered the day as the race favorite having captured the previous three races at the famed short track nicknamed the paper clip. It wouldn’t take long to establish the fact that his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota would be hard to beat yet again today. Hamlin started in the fifth position but navigated to the top spot by lap 35. Hamlin would race inside the top five throughout the day and would led seven times for 89 laps. Hamlin was racing in the fifth position late in the race when he came to pit road for a final stop under the green flag on lap 458. Unfortunately for the FedEx team a caution flag would come out just seven laps later prior to several cars having made their final stops. The result left Hamlin a lap down. Although Hamlin was able to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap he was forced to the rear of those cars. He managed to pick up a few spots over the course of the race’s final laps to earn a 12th-place finish.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the fourth position and quickly raced his way up into the second spot during the day’s initial laps, but tight conditions would ultimately drop him down in the field. A 25 minute red flag stop on lap 223 provided time for the Home Depot team to strategize over how to help the No. 20 Camry turn better, but shortly after the race restarted Logano was sent spinning in an effort to avoid an accident. Fortunately his car suffered no damage and was able to restart the race on the lead lap in the 26th position. Whatever the Home Depot team came up with seemed to work as Logano began to climb through the field and following a green flag round of pit stops was racing in the 12th position. Shortly thereafter the field came back down pit road under caution and he was able to pick up four more spots to restart inside the top ten in eighth with 142 laps to go. Unfortunately another caution would follow a few laps later and those behind Logano would make the decision to come down pit road for fresh tires. The fresh tires would make a difference as Logano was shuffled to the outside line on the track, which proved to be a disadvantage throughout the day, and soon found himself racing back in the 14th position with 100 laps remaining. Despite the difficulties Logano appeared set to race his way back into the top ten, but fell victim to poor timing when the day’s final caution came just a few laps after he had made his final pit stop under the green flag. The result left him a lap off the pace and he would go on to finish 13th as the first car one lap down.
Kevin Harvick captured the victory, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was second, Busch third, Juan Pablo Montoya fourth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. There were 11 cautions for a total of 72 laps, including one red flag stoppage of 25 minutes, and 31 lead changes among 12 different drivers over the course of the 500-lap race.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be in Texas next week for a Saturday night race on Saturday, April 9. The race will begin at 7:30 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 PM ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.