MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Short track racing is known for being chocked full of race cars with sheet metal beaten senseless by the battles on track, and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway was no exception.
The mayhem started early in the day when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun in Turn 3 on lap 69, after contact from Paul Menard.
It continued on lap 106 when Jamie McMurray, dealing with a left-rear tire rub, suffered a tire blowout and spun out into the wall in Turn 3.
“I think the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) got into my left-rear and it got the body on the tire,” McMurray said when asked what happened. “We elected to stay out because if you pit here and you lose two or three laps, I really don’t think you can make those up. In hindsight, I guess I wish we were talking that chance now instead of sitting here, but had a good car and just cut a tire down.”
He finished last for the third time in his career (LASTCAR.info).
On lap 123, Dale Earnhardt Jr. got loose exiting Turn 2 and spun out on the backstretch, with some help from Ryan Blaney.
The first of two multi-car wrecks occurred on lap 288. Exiting Turn 4, Erik Jones bounced off the frontstretch wall. He came down in front of Austin Dillon who nudged him out of the groove in Turn 1, but was himself turned by Denny Hamlin. The domino effect led to massive damage on Kurt Busch’s car and Daniel Suarez’s car.
“Somebody checked up in front of us in the outside lane and jammed it up. No place to go,” Busch said.
A few laps later, Busch blew a left-front tire and slammed the wall in Turn 3 with 205 laps to go.
With 192 to go, Gray Gaulding spun out in Turn 3, as did Reed Sorenson with 167 to go.
With 109 to go, Jeffrey Earnhardt blew a right-front tire and slammed the wall exiting Turn 2.
Matt DiBenedetto spun out in Turn 3 with 94 to go.
The second multi-car wreck flew with 69 to go. Hamlin was driving under Danica Patrick for the pass going into Turn 3 when he got loose on her inside and spun Patrick into the wall. The domino effect resulted in Trevor Bayne pushing Hamlin into the wall and Earnhardt slamming into the back of teammate Kasey Kahne, puncturing the radiator.
“It just ain’t got much of a front bumper on it to begin with,” Earnhardt said, “So, when you get in the back of somebody that hard it’s going to knock the top of the radiator off. It knocked the fitting off the top of the radiator and we are out.”
The final spin of the race came from Truex going around in Turn 4 with 69 to go.