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Johnson leads chase after Martinsville win

Celebrating in victory lane, Johnson suggested that the weather - and the remorseless approach of Hurricane Sandy that was on everyone's radar - might have played a role in deciding the outcome of the battle between himself and Bowyer.

"The middle portion when the sun was out, we seemed to lose our advantage a little bit, was more like a top five car instead of a race-leading or winning car," he said. "From there the weather conditions were changing, as all of you know.

"Overcast, clouds came in, cooler temperatures. The balance on the race track changed a lot for me, and it came my way. Maybe it hurt the #15," he speculated. "It really helped my race car - it was nice to have Mother Nature lend me a hand there at the end and play into what my car needed."

"So close, yet so far away it seems like here at Martinsville time and time again," said second-place man Busch, who said he's tried everything he could to dislodge Johnson from the lead in that final run to the finish.

"Jimmie did a good job - he's a five-time champion for a reason," said Busch afterwards. "I was getting into one, and got to his rear bumper. I didn't want to move him out of the way. He slowed the corner down, protected the bottom. When I went back to the gas, I spun my tyres and got loose, he squirted away from me. No chance of getting back to him in three and four."

Kasey Kahne came home in third ahead of Richard Petty Motorports' Aric Almirola who equalled his best Cup finish with fourth place, thanks to a late two-tyre call by his crew chief Todd Parrott popping him up the running order when it was most needed.

"Todd Parrott made a gutsy call there ... I was really surprised at how fast it went on two tyres," said Almirola. "We were horrible at the beginning of this race and I mean horrible. I don't know how we didn't go several laps down, but we fought hard all day. We fought for every position. We made all kinds of adjustments on this Ford Fusion all day."

Clint Bowyer's late surge to try and reclaim the lead ended in contact with Jeff Gordon with two laps to go: "The #24 at the end, I mean, I didn't want to!" he said after the end of the race.

"I was door-to-door with him and he just turned left to block me and I was already there," he explained. "I hit the brakes and wheel-hopped, I hit him so hard and tried to stay off of him. It was a bad deal right there. You can see I was there and he just kept turning left on me and I was like, 'Hey, you better not do that.' It is what it is."

"Pretty typical Martinsville with Clint Bowyer and the #24 car here it's not the first time," was Gordon's response. "I like Clint a lot we race really hard together and we were just racing hard right there.




Related Pictures

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Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, is involved in an incident as Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, passes during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #14 Janssen Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation Chevrolet SS, finishes in seventh place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday April 3, 2016, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, VA (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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