Kevin Harvick won Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500, becoming the first Sprint Cup driver to win two races in the young 2011 season. To score his first victory at Martinsville Speedway and the first for Richard Childress Racing since 1995 with the late Dale Earnhardt, Harvick had to run down Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the race's closing laps. He made the winning pass with four laps to go and pulled away for his second consecutive victory, having won last week, while Earnhardt Jr. nipped Kyle Busch - who he had nudged past to grab the lead - for second.
Busch's third-place effort, combined with an 18th place run for Carl Edwards gave the Joe Gibbs Racing driver the point lead for the second time this season. All six races this season have featured a different point leader than the man who held the lead after the previous event. Ironically, it was Edwards from whom Busch took the point lead for the first time, after the season's second race at Phoenix when they tangled and Edwards crashed. A blown engine a week later at Las Vegas dropped him out of the top spot.
Juan Pablo Montoya recorded his second top-five of the year, coming home fourth. His fourth top-ten finish of 2011 bumped him to seventh in the standings, 21 ahead of 11th-placed Tony Stewart. After missing the Chase last season, Montoya's steady approach has him well placed to duplicate his 2009 feat of qualifying for the NASCAR playoff.
Jeff Gordon finished fifth after starting a Martinsville career-worst 21st. The active wins leader at the track, with seven, led 37 laps but was passed by Busch just prior to the 400-lap mark. Matt Kenseth came home sixth, a strong recovery at what is arguably his worst track after being penalized by NASCAR for changing lanes before crossing the start-finish line on the initial start of the race. After losing a lap, Kenseth recieved the free pass after a vicious accident involving Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
The top ten was rounded out by polesitter Jamie McMurray in seventh, Unadilla's David Ragan in eighth, Clint Bowyer in ninth, and Mark Martin in tenth. McMurray and Ragan both recorded their first top-ten finishes of the 2011 season, while Bowyer led 91 laps - second to Busch's 151 - before fading outside the top-ten in the race's late stages. He recovered for his second-straight top-ten finish. Martin, like Kenseth, was penalized for an improper lane change on a restart early in the event.
Between them, Jimmie Johnson (65) and Denny Hamlin (89) led 154 laps Sunday, but neither figured into the finish after having their races go south nearly simultaneously. Hamlin made his final pit stop of the day under green, along with A.J. Allmendinger who had run in the top-five, just before Regan Smith spun to draw the race's last caution flag. As the rest of the teams made their stops under the yellow, Johnson was ticketed for speeding and forced to the tail end of the field. Johnson wound up 11th, while Hamlin placed 12th.
Busch holds a five-point lead over Edwards after six races in the 2011 Sprint Cup season. Johnson, Kurt Busch - who finished 16th - and Harvick round out the top-five. Ryan Newman had a tough day and fell from second to sixth, while Montoya's top-five got him up to seventh. Though he could not break a 98-race winless streak, Earnhardt's runner-up effort bumped him four spots in the standings up to 8th.Kenseth and Martin currently round out the top-ten.
The big losers on the day were 34th-place finisher Tony Stewart and Paul Menard, who finished 38th. They entered the race ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, but both fell outside the top-ten in points. Stewart now sits just one point behind Martin for tenth, while Menard is 11 points back.