The Norman Transcript

Sports

April 8, 2013

Jimmie Johnson pulls away from pack to win at Martinsville

(Continued)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. —

Johnson picked the inside line for the final restart with Bowyer on the outside, Gordon behind him and Kyle Busch to his outside, and Johnson got a clean break for the lead into Turn 1, his top priority to build some separation for the finish.

“I felt like if I could get two or three corners and maintain the lead on Clint, I could stretch it back out again,” he said.

Bowyer slid into second and Busch, who tried to make a move on the outside line, instead got hung up out there as Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, who restarted fifth, went underneath to take fourth.

Nothing changed the rest of the way and the top five finished in those positions.

Gordon, too, was thinking he had a chance until Kurt Busch crashed, bringing out the 12th and final caution.

“I obviously didn’t want to see a short run there at the end,” he said.

The victory made team owner Rick Hendrick’s organization the winningest team in Martinsville history with 20, breaking a tie it had with the Petty organization.

Gordon, who was tied with Johnson and Rusty Wallace with seven victories on the 0.526-mile oval, said he knew it would be a tough day when Johnson won the pole for the second race in a row here because of the pit road advantage.

“You give him that No. 1 pit stall here at Martinsville, it’s almost impossible,” Gordon said.

While Johnson dominated, there were times it looked as if the race might go in another direction.

Matt Kenseth, who has struggled at Martinsville throughout his career, actually passed Johnson for the lead and led for 96 laps.

Mark Martin, driving for the injured Denny Hamlin and equally disdainful of the venue, moved into fourth place after taking a chance and getting just two tires on a pit stop, but then faded quickly.

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