October 25 – – Denny Hamlin’s 15th career victory came in the Tums 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Compared to the previous 14 wins, this was by far his biggest as he closed to within 6 points of Jimmie Johnson in the quest for his first NASCAR championship. Hamlin gained 35 points on Johnson, who finished 5th in the race, with four races remaining in the 2010 season.
Jeff Gordon’s title hopes likely became an afterthought following Martinsville as he finished 20th due in part to contact from Kurt Busch. Gordon started 11th and moved into the top-5 within 50 laps. He took the lead shortly before the halfway point by staying out during a caution period. He later slipped back to 3rd as Dale Earnhardt Jr took control of the event after the 300-lap mark. A caution flag on lap 347 brought the leaders to pit road. Gordon exited in 8th place after a problem on the left rear resulted in a 16.1 second pit stop. Gordon fell out of the top-10 on the restart and was unable to get to the inside line. He slipped to 14th on lap 370 before pulling in line in front of David Ragan. Ten laps later, Gordon dove to the inside of Kurt Busch in turn 3 and bumped his way around. Busch drilled Gordon on the frontstretch and turned him into the wall. The National Guard Chevrolet sustained heavy damage to the rear. The crew made repairs with Gordon losing a lap and restarting 22nd.
A caution for Travis Kvapil’s spin with 100 laps to go allowed Gordon to get back on the lead lap. However, Gordon remained outside the top-20 as the laps wound down. He was lapped by race leader Kevin Harvick with 60 laps to go, which put the finishing touches on an ultra-disappointing day. Gordon went a second lap down with 8 to go when race winner Denny Hamlin went by and came across the line in 20th. He dropped to 5th in points and trails by 203. It was his worst finish at Martinsville since October 2002 — eerily enough that was also the last time the San Francisco Giants were playing in the World Series. That is, before Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard on Saturday night.