As always, Martinville Speedway provided us with tons of excitement and action. The STP 500 was a race I really enjoyed, particularly because you did not see one driver really dominate the race; you saw multiple drivers take the lead from each other at different times throughout the day.
Joe Gibbs Racing- From a team that looked like they were in trouble at Phoenix two weeks ago, JGR came alive Sunday and put together a full race resulting in a Denny Hamlin victory. Last week at Auto Club, they also showed signs of life but were not able to put it together at the end of the race and didnt get the result they wanted.
Although I think JGR is behind in flat out speed compared to the Chevrolets right now, they do have a lineup of great drivers that can win almost anywhere.
Regan Smith- A 16th-place finish after not running a lap in the car is absolutely incredible. Then take into fact that he hadn’t raced at Martinsville in two years! Although spinning Sunday, Regan Smith showed that he can just flat out drive. I really would like to see a Sprint Cup ride open up for him, but I am not sure where it would be.
Danica Patrick- I said on Twitter Friday morning that Danica would finish in the top-10 and she delivered! Not only did Danica finish in the top-10 on Sunday, but she avoided trouble and was racing everybody as hard as she always does. Daniel Knost won at Martinsville a year ago with Kurt Busch, and it has to be a great confidence booster for Danica to be expected to finish up near the front end and deliver
Team 48- Hendrick Motorsports has won 22 times at Martinsville. Jimmie Johnson has won eight of those 22 races but looked awful on Sunday. Somebody who posted great practice speeds throughout the weekend, I was sure he was going to be somebody you were going to have to beat to win on Sunday. Jimmie got into Brad Keselowski early and showed his displeasure for Dale Earnhardt Jr. over the radio in the same instance. From then on, you saw him even more frustrated over the radio and really dig himself a hole.
I say “Team 48” because it was not just Johnson that was off on Sunday, but his car and communication with Chad Knaus was a problem throughout the race. You show both of them frustrated with each other throughout the entire race. Overall, I found it very strange that the 48 was this bad at Martinsville this weekend. Although I do not think it’s a sign of things to come, I would keep an eye on it.
Jeff Gordon- He potentially wins the race if he doesnt speed into his box late Sunday. Jeff was the first to tell you that he “screwed up” and cost his team a chance to win Sunday. I understand that mistakes happen but it really is inexcusable to have something like that cost you a race. I wouldn’t look too much into this other than if Gordon cant find a way to win a race the rest of the season and finds himself out of the Chase, although I do not think that will happen.