Event: Goody’s Fast Relief 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 24th/24th (Running, completed 497 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 23rd (638 points)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) scored a 24th-place finish in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Patrick started the race from the 24th position. When the caution flag waved for the first time at lap 22, she reported she was having some trouble with the brakes. She raced her way up to the 18th spot early in the race as the brake issue persisted. Patrick also noted the car’s handling was tight in the center of the corner and that she needed more drive on corner exit.
Crew chief Billy Scott called for air pressure, wedge and packer adjustments and added tape to the openings to the brakes in an effort to help Patrick during the first half of the race. While the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet’s speed improved significantly, Patrick found herself scored two laps down in the 27th position just past the midpoint of the race.
The team made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop at lap 357, and the caution flag waved as the team was performing the stop, which put Patrick three laps down to the leader. She was able to take the wave-around before the field went back to green-flag racing at lap 386 and restarted 24th.
In the late stages of the race, Patrick wasn’t able to make up any ground and took the checkered flag in the 24th position.
“That was a tough one,” Patrick said. “The Nature’s Bakery crew did a great job on pit road all day, and I have to give them credit for that. The brake issue just hurt us so much, especially early in the race, and we weren’t able to rebound as well as we would have liked. It’s tough having days like this, but when you’re down, you just have to dig in and do all you can to finish it out as best you can.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday by finishing 20th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 State Water Heaters Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 22nd.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 26th.
Jimmie Johnson won the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 to score his 79th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his ninth at Martinsville.
Brad Keselowski finished 1.291 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 54 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race around the .526-mile oval.
Harvick and Kurt Busch are representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and after Martinsville – the seventh race of the 10-race Chase – they rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Round of 8. Harvick leaves Martinsville 16 points behind fourth-place Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch is seventh, 18 points out of the top-four. Following the ninth race of the Chase Nov. 13 at Phoenix International Raceway, only the top four drivers will advance to the final, winner-take-all Championship 4 on Nov. 20 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With two races remaining in the Round of 8, the top-eight drivers competing for the title rank as follows:
- Jimmie Johnson (4,044 points) 1 win
- Denny Hamlin (4,039 points) +6 points
- Matt Kenseth (4,039 points) +6 points
- Kyle Busch (4,037 points) +4 points
- Joey Logano (4,033 points) – 4 points
- Kevin Harvick (4,021 points) – 16 points
- Kurt Busch (4,019 points) – 18 points
- Carl Edwards (4,005 points) – 32 points
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 6 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKNG ON MY REDNECK!