Martinsville Speedway was missing one of its favorites this afternoon with Denny Hamlin forced to sit out today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 while recovering from a back injury suffered two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway.
NASCAR veteran driver Mark Martin would fill in for Hamlin and was able to help the FedEx team to a 10th-place finish, while both Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth took their turns at the front of the field over the course of the race and before bringing home fifth and 14th-place finishes respectively.
Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota 11th and patiently worked his way to the front of the field. A great pit stop under caution by the M&Ms crew allowed Busch to restart in the second position on lap 91 and he would pass Jimmie Johnson to take his first lead of the day. He would hold the lead for 12 laps. Busch would remain in the top three over the next 150 laps before passing his teammate in the 20 car to regain the lead just past the halfway mark. Busch would lead twice for a total of 56 laps on the day. He would restart third on lap 368 and would hold onto fifth over the next green flag run as he battled handling conditions on his M&Ms Camry that shifted from earlier in the race. A caution with just over 50 laps to go would allow final adjustments to the car and Busch would restart fourth with 42 laps to go. Busch would restart from the fourth position once again with eight laps remaining and he managed to hold off a challenge from the 2 car to come home fifth.