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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]
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 7th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is 4th, Gordon is 1st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, April 11, 2014 for Saturday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick (Photo Credit: NASCAR)
Stewart-Haas Racing team co-owner Gene Haas (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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