Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Jimmie Johnson was dominate this past weekend in Martinsville, VA. Johnson capture his eighth win and eighth Grandfather Clock by winning at NASCARs oldest track.
There had been five winners in five races so far this season, but Johnson became the first repeat winner leading 346 of the 500 laps.
From the moment, Johnson unloaded his car and pulled on the track, the other drivers knew they were going to be chasing Johnson. Johnson won the pole starting spot with a record qualifying lap of 98.400 MPH. This allowed him the coveted first pit stall, which can be so important to a good Martinsville finish.
On long runs, Johnson’s car actually faded a bit, and Jeff Gordon, who was also trying for his eighth victory on the track, was actually faster than him.
While Johnson led most of the day, there was a time around lap mid-race that Matt Kenseth took the lead and Johnson started to fade. Kyle Busch also lead for a few laps. However at lap 363, Johnson took over the lead and would never give it up.
Gordon was closing on Johnson, and it looked like we would see another classic Johnson, Gordon battle to the checkers, but Kurt Busch crashed with just 13 laps left, the 12th caution of the day.
On the restart, Johnson chose the inside lane, with Clint Bowyer on the outside and Gordon behind him, next to Kyle Busch. Johnson sped away as the green flag dropped, with Bowyer sliding down to the inside. Kyle Busch tried to make something happen by going to the high side, but he would get shuffled back to fifth behind Gordon and Kasey Kahne. The order would remain the same with Johnson winning his 62nd race in his career and taking over the lead in the points standings.
Danica Patrick would bump her way to a 12th place finish, while her owner Tony Stewart would have another sub-par day, finishing 17th. Mark Martin, subbing for injured Denny Hamlin managed a 10th place finish. Brian Vickers will take over Hamlin’s ride this weekend at Texas. Vickers finished 11th at Martinsville.
Johnson and his wife added to the victory celebration on Tuesday, by tweeting out that they are expecting a second child in September.
The Lights are Brightin Texas
NASCARs premier series runs their first night race of the year Saturday night. Twenty four races have been won on the 1.5 mile oval. Seven drivers have won the race at least twice, with Carl Edwards winning three times. My pick this week is Matt Kenseth. Matt has only had one finish worse than 20th, finished in the top five over half of the races he has run there, winning it twice. I also like Dale Earnhardt Jr. to run strong. Earnhardt has finished in the top 10 the past four races at Texas. It’s one of his favorites. He won his first ever start in Texas, his first win ever as well. With DEI, he finished in the top 10, eight times in his first ten races.