It was a race that seemed like it would never end. It was a race that seemed like it would be won by the pace car driver if and when it ever did end. But when it ended, it was the driver who used to be known as "Wonder Boy" who now has AARP on his hood who rolled into victory lane.
Jeff Gordon scored the win at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon led 78 laps, but it took a pass with 20 laps to go to secure the victory. Gordon stalked Matt Kenseth for a while until Kenseth slipped up the track and Gordon dove underneath him to take the lead. After that Gordon just drove off into the setting Virginia sun. The win is the 88th of Gordon's illustrious career, and it was the first of the season-a season that has just three races left-for Gordon. His last win came almost a year ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the 2012 season finale.
It seemed to be a foregone conclusion heading into the race that Jimmie Johnson would stretch his points lead over Matt Kenseth at Martinsville. After all, Johnson has won eight times at the Paperclip. Kenseth has never won there. But instead Kenseth is now back in the lead. Thanks to a tie-breaker. Kenseth and Johnson head to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend tied atop the Sprint Cup Series standings with three races remaining. Kenseth finished second, led the most laps with 200, and Johnson finished fifth with 125 led.
Gordon, even with the win, didn't gain much on Kenseth and Johnson. Gordon is now third in points, 27 back. Kevin Harvick finished sixth and is right on Gordon's back bumper in fourth, 28 points out of the lead. Kyle Busch, meanwhile, is virtually out of it with three races remaining as he is now 36 points behind Kenseth and Johnson in fifth in the standings.
For much of the race it appeared that the pace car would lead the most laps in this race. The event featured 17 caution periods for 111 laps. The pace car led the third-most laps as Kenseth led 200 and Johnson led 125. The race took three hours and 48 minutes to complete and had an average speed of 97.078 mph.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.