8 April 2013
Magic 8th for Johnson at Martinsville
"I made a mistake on pit road and got us way behind," he admitted. "We tried to free it up. We just didn't get it quite freed-up enough. So, I was just trying to get the front end to cut and I knew that we just didn't quite have it.
"On the long runs, I feel like we had the best car, but you know those cautions are going to come out there, he continued. "We were real tight there at the middle part of the race, and then boy - that thing just took off!
"It was a lot of fun. We needed that third place finish, so I'm very proud of this team," he added. "We just needed more laps there at the end."
Busch was able to just hold off Brad Keselowski at the line for fifth place, but admitted that he'd had his eye on better given the early form of the JGR cars during the afternoon.
"We keep finishing top five here all of the time, but it'd sure be nice to figure out some sort of secret that could get us into victory lane here. It would be nice to bring home a grandfather clock, but not this week," shrugged Busch. "We fought hard up there and tried to do what we could and just had to fade gracefully, I guess you'd call it ... There at the end when it was go time, we just didn't quite have enough in this M&M's Camry – just not enough turn and not enough drive off."
Just outside the top ten, Danica Patrick made good on her mid-race comeback from her early issues by finishing in 12th place, finding herself right in the middle a bad-tempered spat between Brian Vickers (who edged her for 11th) and Kevin Harvick (who lost out to both and finished 13th).
"If you're going to block, if you're going to run me across the curb, then you have to get the same in return," said Harvick later, after he'd clearly run into the back of the #55 to spin it following the chequered flag. "We raced hard all day, and we raced clean with a lot of people [but] if you're going to run me through the marbles, then what am I going to do?"
Vickers was mystified as to what had angered Harvick: "We hadn't really raced that much all day, and then he just wrecked us after the chequered flag," said a baffled Vickers. "It was blatant, pretty blatant: he just turned right into us."
On the other hand, Vickers was less than happy with Patrick's final run to the flag on the outside line: "The #10 and I were racing pretty hard. I got to her and got under her several times, and she ran me down in the marbles, ran me across the curb, was blocking pretty bad. So I put the bumper to her a little bit."
On the back of of his eighth Martinsville race win, Johnson jumps back into command of the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings by nine points over Brad Keselowski; former leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. slips two spots to third as a result of his troubles at Martinsville, while Kyle Busch is up two places to fourth having completed his comeback from two early frustrating outings at the start of the season.
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