Jared C. Tilton
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.
Jimmie Johnson had about as good a day as he could have hoped for Sunday at Martinsville, starting from the pole, leading the most laps, and winning the Tums Fast Relief 500. With the 59th win of his Sprint Cup career, Johnson overhauls Brad Keselowski for the Sprint Cup point lead. Johnson holds a two-point edge on his rival, who finished sixth.
Kyle Busch finished second and might have had a shot at using the bumper on Johnson had the race gone another lap or so. Kasey Kahne was third, Aric Almirola had a terrific fourth-place finish in Richard Petty's Ford - perhaps easing the sting of last week's heartache - and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five after a door-slamming duel with Jeff Gordon.
Keselowski got Gordon on the last lap for that sixth spot, a gain of 26 positions from where he started the day. Gordon, who looked unstoppable early, came out on the short end of the battle with Bowyer and wound up seventh. Brian Vickers had another great run in Michael Waltrip's No. 55 Toyota, coming home eighth. Bobby Labonte picked up his second top-10 of the year in one of his best runs for the No. 47 team. Greg Biffle rounded out the top-10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran in the top-10 nearly all day but spun late in a battle with Carl Edwards and finished 21st.
Denny Hamlin, who came into the day third in the standings, had an up and down day with recoveries from two speeding penalties. He couldn't overcome a shorted master switch, however, and wound up a miserable 33rd. At 49 points out of the lead, his dreams of a Sprint Cup championship will have to wait at least one more year.