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Stewart steals win, Edwards dodges disaster

Newman and Busch's woes were just a small part of the 18 cautions seen at Martinsvile on this sunny, cloudless but chilly autumn Sunday afternoon. The first hundred laps in particular were overloaded with incidents and cautions, and the final hundred laps almost as bad; thank goodness for the middle section of the race proceeding comparatively calmly or else the proceedings would never have been finished before the light started to fade.

The first crash happened as early as lap 8, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. bounced off the kerbing at turn 1 (coloured pink for breast cancer awareness month) and sent Kurt Busch spinning, which also collected Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Mike Skinner and Jeff Burton. Gordon had some major front-end damage, making his recovery to run with the lead pack for so much of the race all the more remarkable.

"I got caught up in that incident early on," said Gordon. "It looked like Dale Jr. got into the kerb a little bit getting into 1 and we just had nowhere to go ... and I centre-punched him. We're pretty lucky. That right-front brake duct was tore up pretty good and at this place, cooling those brakes is pretty important."

A second caution came out on lap 27 (which replaced a previously-scheduled competition caution) after Dave Blaney spun in turn 3 collecting Regan Smith, and Brian Vickers was also involved for a second time already in the afternoon. It was just the start of a torrid day for the Red Bull Racing driver, as Vickers was also the cause of the third caution on lap 46 when he spun while battling with Montoya, who also suffered some light damage from the accident.

It was David Reutimann's turn to spin in turn 2 on lap 65 for the fourth caution. He collected Martin Truex Jr., Reed Sorenson and Scott Speed. There was some consternation that Vickers had missed out this time, but not to worry, there were plenty more opportunities ahead - and sure enough, it was contact with Vickers that sent Jamie McMurray spinning on lap 85 in turn 3 for the fifth caution.

Caution six on lap 105 was between Marcos Ambrose and Montoya, Ambrose getting turned into the wall by contact and sustaining front-end damage to the #9. After this there was a reasonable 38-lap green flag stretch before Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a move on Joey Logano and sent the #20 into the wall on lap 149. Logano complained that he was heartily sick of this happening to him, but his frustration was given short shrift by veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli, who responded with words to the effect of "better grow some balls and take care of it."

"We did okay recovering from where we were," said a dejected Logano after the race. "I'm just not happy with the way we performed all day, myself included ... It's pretty disappointing."

Bobby Labonte and Hermie Sadler got together on lap 196 to bring out caution number eight. It was the second incident of the day for Labonte, who had also spun after being bumped by Dave Blaney on lap 98. No caution had come out on that occasion, to the surprise of many fans and media commentators watching the race, who speculated that NASCAR's concerns about getting the race in during daylight hours (Martinsville having no floodlights) might be encroaching into established safety protocols.

After action resumed on lap 203 the race finally enjoyed one of its longest green flag stints, running untroubled for 55 laps, during which Carl Edwards ended up a lap down after being passed by Jeff Gordon. Finally a spin by Mark Martin on the backstretch on lap 258 brought out the caution that handed Edwards his first free pass onto the lead lap.

The next green flag stint lasted almost a hundred laps - it was at this point that Edwards went well and truly off the lead lap - before the tenth caution of the afternoon that resulted from a spin by David Gilliland on lap 361, which put him into the wall at turn 1.

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

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Kyle Busch gets into the wall as Mark Martin races by to bring out the 16th caution from laps 465-473 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Juan Montoya runs high as Brian Vickers spins during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
#99 crew chief Bob Osborne and driver Carl Edwards talk before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. [Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Tony Stewart gets past Jimmie Johnson after the final restart to make the pass for the win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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