Surprising and Not Surprising: Martinsville Speedway

Brad Keselowski won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) STP 500 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. This was Keselowski’s first win at the speedway, his second of the 2017 season and the 23rd of his career. This was Ford’s 82nd win but it was the first win at Martinsville Speedway since Kurt Busch in 2002.

“This is awesome,” Keselowski said. “We’ve ran so good here with the Miller Lite Ford, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home. Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks. The guys that run well everywhere run well here and it’s really just an honor to win here and get to compete here. This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. It feels great to be able to join them and bring home a clock.”

Not Surprising

Chase Elliott started second, led twice for 20 laps and he won the second stage of the 500-mile event and finished third. Elliott also won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville.

He was upbeat after the race saying, “I was really proud of our improvements this weekend. I hope that it wasn’t just a fluke deal and we didn’t just get lucky today and run good. I really hope that we’ve found something or I have found something at this track that will lend some more consistent finishes that are further towards the front.”


Last week’s winner and series points leader Kyle Larson started on the pole and finished 17th. Despite the bad finish, Larson retains the series points lead after Martinsville by four points over Elliott.

Larson was understandably disappointed and posted on his Twitter account that he was “glad that one’s over. Fought all day and almost ended up with a top 10. Started blowing up the last 15 laps and lost 7 or 8 spots.”

Not Surprising

Clint Bowyer had his second straight top-10 finish and is currently eighth in the points standings.

Bowyer was hoping fo a better finish and said, “I thought that I would have a shot at running up front and leading laps. It just wasn’t our day. We’re learning. The guys were so tight last year when that ran with Tony (Stewart) that it freed up a lot today. I was just holding on all day. All and all it was solid. Even on an off day, it was solid, single digits.”


Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one win, 13 top fives and 18 top 10s coming into Martinsville but a speeding penalty during the race put him in the back and in the heart of a multi-car accident on lap 417. Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet began smoking immediately from radiator damage.

“I must have sped on pit road. They said it was in the segment right after our pit stall, so I must have gotten a good launch out of there. And, uh, hanging around John Force too much, or something, I don’t know. I don’t know how you speed in (that) little segment just coming out of the pit box, but we must have. It got us in the back and we got bottled-up there in (Turn) 3 and they’re ain’t no bumpers on these cars. It knocked the radiator out of it. So, we’re out of the race. We went to the garage to try to fix it, but can’t with the new rules. So, we’re done.”

Not Surprising

Joey Logano’s No. 22 Duralast GT Ford Fusion team was assessed a pit road penalty for crew members jumping over the wall too soon on lap 70. Logano restarted in the 30th position but battled back to finish fourth.

A frustrated Logano said, “Every time we got ourselves in position to get some stage points something happened and, I don’t know, we’d be about 30th.”


Despite leading seven times for a race-high 274 of laps, Kyle Busch could not hold off Keselowski.

“We’re not, just not quite getting the finishes we need. We just need to figure out how to finish what we are or where we’re running. So far, we’ve been finishing worse.” Busch blamed the tires after the race. “Just needed a normal set of tires. We put on a set of tires there at the end that weren’t the same as the ones that we took off and it just slowed the car down a minimum three-tenths that whole entire last run.”

Not Surprising

AJ Allmendinger was fifth fastest in the second MENCS practice and was able to carry that speed over to the race, finishing sixth to capture his second top-10 this season.

“This car was frigging hooked up,” he said. “Once we got it right, long runs, it was just an awesome race car. I can’t thank everybody at Kroger, Clicklist, and all of our associates, everybody at the shop. Randall Burnett (crew chief) having him back after the suspension, just, God I wish we would have stayed green for about 120 laps because I think I could have ate these guys alive. All-in-all a solid day.”


Austin Dillon finished fifth in his No. 3 Okuma Chevrolet SS, capturing his best finish this season. It was his first top-five finish this year.

“Yeah, it’s really big for our team and for everybody at DOW and Okuma. Our pit crew did a really good job today. We had a fast car on restarts and could really take off. The middle of the run was shaky for us but that last run we held on, which was really nice.”

The Monster Energy Series next heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on April 9 at 1:40 p.m. ET.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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