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Stewart steals win, Edwards dodges disaster

The next caution on lap 398 was the first clash between Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, with Jeff Burton the bystander who ended up punted into the wall by Busch as a result. It was good news for the field who were able to either take enough gas to put fuel conservation strategies to one side for the day, or else take the wave-around if they needed to recover a lost lap. A 12th caution followed soon after the restart, when Regan Smith got into Mark Martin who then made contact with Hermie Sadler who was sent spinning in turn, and it was this caution that finally handed Edwards a second free pass of the day back onto the lead lap.

The race had barely restarted before the 13th caution - Greg Biffle slamming the wall in turn 2 after contact with Ryan Newman - and the next restart only lasted six laps before Paul Menard and Kurt Busch fell over each other on lap 427; Busch spun and Menard suffered a lot of damage in the aftermath.

Remarkably, despite all the chaos, as the race entered its final 50 laps all 12 Chase runners were on the lead lap and running 17th or better. Even Brian Vickers was still hanging on in there - but on lap 457 it seemed that his luck was finally out and he hit the wall in turn 3 after getting a helping hand from Matt Kenseth. It would not, however, be quite the last we saw of the battle-scarred #83 for the afternoon ...

"Brian just kept hitting me in the door," explained Kenseth of what had led up to the accident. "He just kept driving in harder and harder and he slammed me in the door at least five times and just ran me up in the marbles and I was just tired of it, so I spun him out." He continued, I don't know how you can't pass somebody here without running into him every single time when he gives you the bottom and the fastest lane, but obviously he couldn't!"

The ensuing short-lived restart was the moment that Kenseth locked his tyres and took out Kyle Busch, Juan Montoya et al on lap 464, and the 17th caution was the rematch between Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman that sent the #39 spinning on lap 475. The restart with 22 laps to go to the finish was the moment that Johnson shot away into a big lead and it looked like he might actually pull off a win despite not having taken up fresh tyres.

Johnson's hopes evaporated with the 18th and final caution (three shy of the track record for yellow flags) of the afternoon on lap 492 - and Brian Vickers was once again the star turn. He had returned to the track to hand out some payback to Matt Kenseth for their earlier encounter, but instead he just ended up spinning himself in the attempt and destroying the #83 for good this time.

In itself this was just a little sideshow, but in bringing out the caution and closing up the field when it did, it had a massive effect on the eventual winner - because with three laps to go, Tony Stewart got past Jimmie Johnson at the restart and went on to claim the win. Stewart had better make sure Vickers is on his Christmas card list this year, since he's already been handed a massive present from the Red Bull stable.

"He was a part of every caution," complained Johnson, who was less impressed. "I wish he could have just driven around the racetrack, and we could have won this thing, but, whatever, we'll move on."

Johnson was particularly unhappy with how he had lost the race because of Vicker's attempt at payback on Matt Kenseth. "When you're on the racetrack and someone wrongs you, you have some decisions to make in how you want to handle that," he said. "After a fourth, fifth time with the same car in the crash, you start thinking about maybe you're the problem ... Something is going on. You're having a bad day. You need to stop crashing, for whatever reason."

Vickers himself left the track without speaking to the media.

Stewart agreed that there were some drivers who needed teaching a lesson out there today - and not just Vickers. "You let a guy get his butt kicked once or twice, he'll quit doing stupid stuff like that. I saw a bunch of it today out there. Luckily we weren't one of the guys that were in the middle of it a lot. I think they ought to get a portable boxing ring. As soon as they get done with the victory celebration, set the boxing ring on the front stretch, give the fans a real show they paid for!"


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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