Martinsville Race Wrap Up: Welcome back, Bowyer
CONCORD, N.C. - Clint Bowyer put to bed six years and 190 races' worth of frustration Monday, scoring his ninth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and first ever at Martinsville Speedway.
Bowyer dominated the second half of the event, leading 215 of the final 216 laps en route to his first checkered flag since winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October of 2012. To put in perspective how frustrating the last few years have been, Bowyer led more laps Monday
"It's just a weight off the shoulders, man. It's been a long time, you start to question if you can get it done or not. To have it come at this place, I'm telling you, it meant a lot," Bowyer said in victory lane.
Clint even stole the spotlight on Monday night's Fast Talk with an impromptu interview. Click here to listen.
How Bowyer won the race: Just 14 laps into the final stage of the STP 500, Bowyer tracked down Ryan Blaney and took the lead in Turn 3. After grabbing the top spot, Bower pulled away and was never really challenged over the final 200+ laps.
Mild Monday: After being snowed out Sunday, Monday's race featured just one caution for an on-track incident, when Austin Dillon wheel-hopped getting into Turn 1 and spun Jamie McMurray on Lap 385. Adding in three planned cautions (two for stage breaks and a competition yellow) made for the fewest yellows at the paper clip since Cale Yarborough won the Old Dominion 500 in September of 1978.
Our good friend
If we get through a race at Martinsville with one actual caution that's basically like putting on a white polo and eating three plates of spaghetti marinara while riding a mechanical bull and getting none on of it you. #NASCAR— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) March 26, 2018
Snow much fun: Martinsville's postponement marked the first time NASCAR experienced a snow-out in 25 years. The 1993 Motorcraft 500 at Atlanta
Rough day for Roush Fenway: The off week couldn't come at a better time for Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. Stenhouse crashed in practice and was forced to start at the rear of the field in an untested backup car. It showed, too, as the No. 17 couldn't find the handle all day and came home 19 laps off the pace in 37th, the last car running. With 40 laps to go, Bayne's No. 6 pancaked the outside wall, relegating him to a 33rd-place finish, 11 laps behind Bowyer. Neither driver has a top-10 finish through six races.
Penske power: Heading into Martinsville, all eyes were on Team Penske's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, but it was Ryan Blaney who again turned heads in the No. 12 Ford. Blaney led 145 laps Monday, his first ever laps led at the Virginia half-mile, and won the second stage before coming home third.
Keselowski, who averaged a third-place finish in his four most recent starts at Martinsville, was unable to challenge for the lead after a second-place run in Stage 1 and came home tenth. Logano was a force in the top 10 all day as well, bringing the No. 22 home in sixth after battling with Jimmie Johnson and A.J. Allmendinger throughout the second half of the race.
Did you see that? NASCAR's new policy of regulating pit guns caused some heartburn for teams early this season, but after a couple of quiet weeks on the West Coast, all seemed well. But the No. 19 team of Daniel Suarez experienced something we've never seen before: one of their guns actually broke in half during the race.
It snapped in half because they dropped the jack early and the gun was launched into the pit wall at a high rate of speed. Hopefully that has been reported https://t.co/b1JhWDJ3Am— Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) March 26, 2018
According to NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell, the gun snapped in half because the team dropped the jack and it was thrown into the pit wall at a high rate of speed. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and Suarez's crew was actually able to complete their pit stop despite having a two-piece pit gun.
Allmendinger Delight: When you think of cagey short-track racers, A.J. Allmendinger probably doesn't come to mind. But the driver of the No. 47 for JTG-Daugherty Racing kept his Chevy in the top 10 almost all day long and finished 8th. For the Dinger, it was his fourth top 10 in his last five starts at Martinsville, including a second-place in the spring of 2016. A.J. spent more laps in the top 10 Monday than he had in the last 35 races combined. Atta boy, A.J.
Social Media Spotlight: Bowyer snapping a 190-race winless streak was the talk of social media in the immediate aftermath of the race and Tuesday morning. Notable tweets included congratulations from Mario
Hey Clint @ClintBowyer savor all the love and good wishes from your competitors now because when you start winning regularly they may not be so kind...Happy for you and @StewartHaasRcng— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) March 27, 2018
I appreciate all the comments! They mean more to me than any trophy ever will. I promise I'll answer them all later. As for now, there's an ass load of bad decisions fixing to go down. I better put this thing away! ??— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) March 27, 2018
Priceless. pic.twitter.com/4ySYhYIeky— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) March 26, 2018
Bloomin' Tuesday?: With Kevin Harvick's 5th place finish in the STP 500 on Monday, Outback Steakhouse will honor free Bloomin' Onions on Tuesday, March 27. We like the sound of that.
Take a Bloomin' victory lap and get your free Bloomin' Onion with any purchase when you visit us on Tuesday, March 27th. pic.twitter.com/3lBLEIqF58— Outback Steakhouse (@Outback) March 26, 2018
Next week: It's the first off week of the season, as all three of NASCAR's top series observe the Easter holiday. In two weeks, the NASCAR circus will head to the Lone Star State for the O'Reilly 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. You can hear all of the action right here on the Performance Racing Network.