Martinsville Race Recap

The Key Moment – With 1fourteen laps to go Jeff Gordon bulled his way past Bobby Labonte. Labonte got one more shot at Gordon on the eleventh restart but caught sleeping allowing Gordon to drive off in the sunset.

In a Nutshell – The most exciting, purest form of Winston Cup racing, served up piping hot.

Dramatic Moment – Those final 40 laps of the race were about as good as it gets.

Ricky Craven blew a tire on the ninth restart and shoved leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. up out of the groove.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Think Junior would have won if Craven hadn’t gotten into him?

Can you imagine how this race would have finished if the Cup series had a green/white/checker rule like the truck series? Should NASCAR have thrown the red flag when Terry Labonte’s spin bought out the eleventh caution?

Why aren’t there more short track races?

What the heck has gotten into Terry Labonte lately? (Besides the 97 car that is.)

What was wrong with Kenseth’s car today?

What was going on at the Unocal 76 pumps today? How come it took the teams so long to get their dump cans refilled?

How in heck did Bill Elliott end up 13th?

Since when are, “Isn’t it great to live in America” the “most infamous words in motorsports”?

Looks like the New and Improved Tony Stewart ® is beginning to fray a little around the edges, huh?

So what happened to Rusty Wallace this time?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading the race to a restart when a lapped car cut down a tire and knocked him out of the racing groove allowing Gordon, Stewart and Labonte to pass him.

Jimmy Spencer had a strong run going but left his pit with the fuel can still attached to the car dropping him back to 26th at that point in the race.

Dale Jarrett got punted by Kenny Schrader and knocked into the 43 car. To make things worse, he had to pit three times, the team still managed to leave lug nuts loose and DJ was then nailed for speeding on pit road. Somewhere Brad Parrott is laughing.

Jamie McMurray ran as high as second before mechanical problems relegated him to a 39th place result.

Rusty Wallace’s winless drought will be two seasons long if he fails to win at California in two week’s time. I guess Miller beer doesn’t pay attention to “Born On Dates” huh?

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Early in the race Bobby Labonte almost got lapped, but late in the race he almost won the event. That’s especially impressive considering he started the race 39th.

Tony Stewart finished the race on a flat tire. Had racing resumed he’d have lost a ton of spots pitting.

Kenny Schrader was able to capitalize on a good starting spot and finished tenth, his first top ten finish since the 2000 Southern 500.

Worth Noting

Jeff Gordon became the ninth different winner in nine races run to date this season.

Jeff Burton scored his first top 5 finish of the 2003 season.

Bobby Labonte is the only driver to score a top 5 in both of this season’s short track races. Sterling Marlin, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have top 10 finishes in both short track races.

Greg Biffle was the top finishing rookie coming home 18th.

Matt Kenseth suffered his worst finish of the season Sunday (22nd) and only his second finish outside the top ten in nine races.

Earnhardt Jr. now has the most top 5 finishes of any driver (five). Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth all have four top 5s.

Kenseth continues to lead all drivers with seven top 10 finishes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is next in that category with six. Five drivers (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler) have five top 10s a piece.

What’s the Points?

Matt Kenseth retains his points lead for the sixth week in a row, but his margin is now only 51 points over Earnhardt Jr. who remains in second.

His race win allows Jeff Gordon to move up to third in the points, up two spots and 139 points behind Kenseth.

Inside the top 10 Harvick and Stewart also advance two spots to sixth and seventh respectively. Ricky Craven fell three spots to ninth, Kurt Busch fell two spots to fifth and Michael Waltrip fell a spot to eighth.

Johnny Benson’s downbound train ride continues at Benson falls another three spots to 26th. (After Atlanta, five races ago he’d been running sixth.)

Other rocket-men advancing in the points include Kenny Wallace (up five spots to 23rd), Bobby Labonte and Sterling Marlin (each up four spots to eleventh and twelfth respectively) and Jeff Burton, Terry Labonte, Greg Biffle and Bill Elliott. (All of whom advanced three spots and are now 18th, 21st, 22nd, and 29th respectively.)

Among those heading the wrong way are Dave Blaney (Down four spots to 24th) and Jeremy Mayfield (Down three spots to 32nd.)

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We’ll give it a solid ultra-cold five can rating. It wasn’t Darlington, but this one will be on the highlight reels for a while.

Next Up – A rare weekend off. Happy Easter, everyone, and remember the reason for the season. The Winston Cup traveling circus heads for California in two weeks time. Actual racing resumes a week later at Richmond.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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