Event: Martinsville 500 (Round 6 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/7th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 13th (157 points, 116 out of first)
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):
● Clint Bowyer started 10th and finished sixth.
● Reported his car was loose in the initial laps.
● Turned in some impressive lap times as he climbed into the top-five by lap 32.
● Continued to fight a loose-handling car, but the No. 14 looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):
● Bowyer started sixth and finished eighth.
● Dropped from sixth to 13th after slipping in grease in turns three and four immediately after the start of the stage.
● Climbed back up to eighth before the end of the stage.
● Told the crew his car was loose in and off and needed more drive off the corners.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 261 -500):
● Bowyer started third and finished seventh.
● A quick pit stop during the stage break moved Bowyer from eighth to third for the start of the final stage.
● Raced in third with 200 laps remaining, again turning fast lap times.
● Caution with 186 to go saw Bowyer visit pit lane, but a speeding penalty dropped him to 23rd.
● Bowyer drove back to 13th when another caution brought him to pit lane with 124 laps remaining. However, a second speeding penalty sent him to the back once again.
● Bowyer had driven up to 13th when the next caution came with 54 laps remaining.
● He pitted without incident and restarted the 500-lap race in 10th with 50 laps remaining.
● Bowyer made it back to seventh before the checkered flag fell.
● Bowyer earned his second top-10 of the season and his 16th top-10 in 27 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Martinsville.
● Bowyer finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn an additional three bonus points.
● Brad Keselowski won the Martinsville 500 to score his 29th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his second at Martinsville. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .594 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 56 laps.
● Twenty of the 36 drivers in the Martinsville 500 finished on the lead lap.
● Kyle Busch leaves Martinsville as the championship leader with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford Mustang:
“I don’t think anybody obviously had anything for (Keselowski) or (Elliott). I think we were a top three car for sure, but we kept beating ourselves. I guess we need to get our stuff together on being on the same page with that pit road speed. It’s such an important thing and such a big part of this style of racing, where track position is everything. We push it to the limit, but it’s so hard to practice pit road speed. You’ve got trucks on pit road when you’re trying to practice that. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just when you’re trying to pinch every little thing out of it, it was hard this week to practice pit road speed because of all the stuff on pit road.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.