Jared C. Tilton

NASCAR At Martinsville 2012: Johnson wins Tums Fast Relief 500, takes over Sprint Cup point lead

Jimmie Johnson started from the pole, led the most laps, and won the Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. As if that wasn't enough, the five-time champ takes over the point lead with three races remaining.

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12 Total Updates since October 25, 2012
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NASCAR Point Standings: Johnson Leads Chase

After winning the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, Jimmie Johnson takes over the points lead over Brad Kesoloweski.

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Johnson wins at Martinsville, takes point lead

Jimmie Johnson started from the pole, led the most laps, and won the Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. As if that wasn't enough, the five-time champ takes over the point lead with three races remaining.

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Johnson leads, Hamlin felled by electrical gremlin

Electrical gremlins have ruined Denny Hamlin's run in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. His championship dreams are probably also over for another season. Hamlin's Toyota began losing power and finally stopped on the frontstretch on lap 393. It ruins what had been a valiant drive for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who twice raced from deep in the pack after speeding penalties into the top-five.

Championship hopeful Jimmie Johnson grabbed the lead under the caution flag for Hamlin's stall, with Clint Bowyer - who has led the most circuits - Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon completing the top-five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs sixth in his return to the Sprint Cup Series from his break to heal from his concussions. Brian Vickers is seventh, Kevin Harvick eighth, point leader Brad Keselowski runs ninth, and Sam Hornish Jr. completes the top-10 with 100 laps remaining in the 500-lapper.

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Bowyer leads after 250 of 500 laps at Martinsville

NASCAR's quintessential lovable goofball Clint Bowyer showed the way through 250 of the 500 laps in today's Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. The gregarious Kansan took the lead from Jimmie Johnson after the most-recent restart and has his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota out front.

If Bowyer is the engineer, then Rick Hendrick's quartet of Chevrolets make up the train he's pulling around the venerable old paperclip. Jeff Gordon runs second, Kasey Kahne third, Johnson is back to fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds down the fifth spot at the midpoint of today's race.

Denny Hamlin, who cut his teeth in late model races across Virginia (including Martinsville) and has won four times at NASCAR's oldest track, has been ticketed for speeding twice in the opening half of Sunday's race. The first time, Hamlin dropped to 30th and channeled his impressive drive a few weeks ago in Loudon, taking just 78 laps to crack the top-five again. His crew had gotten him off pit road first during a cycle of stops on lap 200, only to get their second ticket. Hamlin has climbed back into the top-10 once again and still has plenty of time to get back out front - so long as he avoids another penalty.

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Gordon in vintage form early on at Martinsville

For years, the Martinsville Speedway could have been aptly nicknamed "Gordonville." Jeff Gordon won seven times at the track, including season-sweeps in 2003 and 2005. Then along came Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, who stole Gordon's thunder at the paperclip, it seemed.

Gordon is in vintage form early on in the Tums Fast Relief 500, having led 53 of the opening 130 laps after starting from the 11th position. Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. all stayed out under the most-recent caution flag for a spin by Travis Kvapil. Brian Vickers, having another strong run in his limited runs in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip-owned Toyota, sits fourth ahead of Hamlin in fifth. Hamlin, third in points, has overcome a pit-road speeding penalty under the first caution that dropped him to 30th place.

The story of the race - aside from Gordon and Hamlin's charge through the field and championship implications with polesitter Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, who run 11th and 15th, respectively - has been right-front tires. The first two cautions were brought out by blown right fronts on the cars of David Stremme and David Gilliland. Martinsville is typically tough on right-front tires, as the heavy braking needed to slow the cars for the tight turns can cause so much heat that the tires actually melt their bead.

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Johnson leads early as Gordon charges

Jimmie Johnson opened Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway right where he needed to: out front after winning the pole Friday. Even better was that Brad Keselowski, who led him by seven points entering the weekend, qualified a miserable 32nd.

Johnson led the opening 46 laps before the opening yellow flag for a blown tire by David Stremme., passing the 1,800-lap led threshold for his career at the venerable old speedway. He very well could extend that mark even further, perhaps past the century mark, but to do that he's going to have to hold his teammate and Martinsville Master Jeff Gordon at bay. That doesn't seem all that likely, as Gordon has been the fastest car on the race track since the drop of the green flag and had climbed all the way from 11th to second.

Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch completed the top-five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., in his return to the Sprint Cup series after a two-week break, climbed to 11th from his 20th-place starting position. Earnhardt, who traditionally runs very well at Martinsville, has four-straight top-10s in his last four races there.

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NASCAR At Martinsville start time, tv/radio info

What time does the race start today? Engines will start at 1:38 p.m. ET, followed by the green flag at 1:43 p.m. ET.

Race distance: The race is 500 laps around a 0.526-mile track. In total, the drivers will race for 263 miles.

TV, radio and live streaming: Today's race can be seen on ESPN, as will every race for the rest of the season. The race can also be live streamed at NASCAR.com's "RaceBuddy" site and on the "Watch ESPN" app. The race can also be heard on the radio - check the Motor Racing Network's web site for a list of affiliate radio stations in your area.

Preview: Ryan Newman was victorious at this event in April while Tony Stewart just beat Jimmie Johnson in this race last year.

Here's the starting lineup, beginning with pole position, for today's NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Brian Vickers
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Jeff Burton
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Matt Kenseth
  7. Tony Stewart
  8. Clint Bowyer
  9. Paul Menard
  10. Aric Almirola
  11. Jeff Gordon
  12. Martin Truex Jr.
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Joey Logano
  15. Kasey Kahne
  16. David Ragan
  17. Ryan Newman
  18. Bobby Labonte
  19. Kurt Busch
  20. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Casey Mears
  23. Carl Edwards
  24. Jamie McMurray
  25. Juan Pablo Montoya
  26. AJ Allmendinger
  27. Sam Hornish Jr.
  28. Ken Schrader
  29. David Reutimann
  30. Greg Biffle
  31. Josh Wise
  32. Brad Keselowski
  33. Marcos Ambrose
  34. Landon Cassill
  35. David Gilliland
  36. Scott Riggs
  37. Dave Blaney
  38. Joe Nemechek
  39. Reed Sorenson
  40. David Stremme
  41. Travis Kvapil
  42. Stephen Leicht
  43. Scott Speed
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Can Dale Jr Win at Martinsville?

After two weeks of rest, Dale Earnhardt Jr is back in the race car and could be one to watch out for this weekend at Martinsville.

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Jimmie Johnson Wins Pole for Tums Fast Relief 500

Jimmie Johnson's success at the paperclip continues as he wins the pole for Sundays Tums Fast Relief 500

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NASCAR At Martinsville Qualifying time, tv info

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the final short track race of the season. Will Brad Kesoloweski remain on top of the Chase standings after carnage and mayhem at the paperclip?

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Smith to Run In the Nationwide Series in 2013

After substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr for the last two weeks in the Sprint Cup Series, Smith's reward proves to be a valuable one indeed.

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Johnson primed to take control in Martinsville

NASCAR heads to Martinsville Speedway, where five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson could be primed to take control of the Chase after a remarkable run in Kansas. Tony Stewart outdueled Johnson to win last year's Tums Fast Relief 500.

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