MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 30, 2011) – Tony Stewart made a daring move to the high side of leader Jimmie Johnson with three laps to go to win the TUMS Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.
Johnson had the preferred inside line on a restart on lap 498 after the 18th caution flag of the day, but Stewart managed to make the difficult outside pass going into the first turn and held on for his third victory of 2011 and his third career win at Martinsville Speedway.
“I don’t know because I don’t think anybody has ever passed Jimmie Johnson on the outside, so just determination,” Stewart said when asked about his late pass of Johnson. “I don’t think we had the best racecar today by any means, but we had the most determined pit crew to get it as good as they can get it. I was pretty mad all day, but I was the only guy who didn’t get in a wreck with somebody so I was kind of proud of that.”
Johnson wound up second followed by Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.
NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards overcame what could have been an awful day to finish ninth and maintain his lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Edwards was a lap down at one time and was mired outside of the top 20 much of the day.
It was a slugfest of a day, with 18 caution periods for 108 laps, a season high for both.
“It’s just Martinsville, isn’t it?” said Gordon. “I think it’s a combination of late in the year and Martinsville and sometimes just the way the race goes. If you get early cautions here at Martinsville, that usually contributes itself to more cautions. Those are more guys, somebody’s upset, tempers are flaring, incidents happen. It escalates from there.”
Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2012 with the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX.