NASCAR visited Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon, and it brought an emotional win for one driver, who also happened to be a driver not in the Chase.
The caution flew several times for incidents involving Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne, starting on lap 159 when Vickers spun with some help from Kahne. Then, on lap 220, Vickers was able to spin Kahne, bringing out the caution. The spat between the two ended on lap 277, when Kahne came back to spin Vickers. The third incident brought a warning from NASCAR to stop along with the caution flag.
Two Chase contenders were caught up in incidents throughout the race, setting them back in the standings and causing them to be in a win-or-bust situation. On lap 227, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth made contact with each other, causing Harvick to hit the wall and lose 40 laps because of repairs. Brad Keselowski also experienced issues during the race when he experienced a mechanical issue on lap 437, which resulted in a pile up between him, Kahne, Vickers, Martin Truex Jr., and Casey Mears.
Then, with 10 laps to go, the race was red-flagged following an accident between Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Larson. When the race resumed, Tony Stewart emerged as the leader following many cars pitting but soon fell back several spots due to the fact that he was on older tires.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his way to the front and gained his first win at Martinsville Speedway, giving him an emotional victory. The win came on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of the plane accident that took the lives of 10 people, including team owner Rick Hendrick’s brother, son, and nieces. He is also was the first driver not competing in the championship to win a Chase race this season.
Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.