The Tums 500 at Martinsville Speedway was a tale of two races for Jeff Gordon. He sustained damage in a multi-car incident on lap 11, and restarted at the tail end of the lead lap due to a later pit road penalty. However, his miscues occurred in the first 200 laps of the 500 lap event. Gordon used pit road position and tactics to gain track position and took the race lead shortly after the halfway point. Gordon led until lap 320 when Danny Hamlin took the top spot. Gordon dropped to 3rd after losing a spot to Jimmie Johnson on pit road during a caution period on lap 362. On the restart, Gordon moved ahead of Johnson and took the lead from Hamlin entering turn three. A caution with 123 laps to go brought the field to pit road. Gordon exited in 2nd place after Kevin Harvick opted for two tires.
A caution flag with 42 laps to go resulted in Johnson staying on the track as the leader, with nearly every other lead lap car hitting pit road. Gordon restarted in 7th place with 39 laps to go. Gordon moved to 5th with 36 laps to go before a multi-car incident involving Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. On the restart with 27 laps to go, Gordon moved into 4th place before a caution for Ryan Newman’s spin. Gordon dropped to 5th on the ensuing restart, but regained the spot from Dale Earnhardt Jr with 17 laps to go. Gordon took the 3rd position before a caution for Brian Vickers spin with 8 laps to go. On the restart with 3 laps to go, Gordon looked to the inside of Johnson, but was unable to take the spot. He came across the line in 3rd place — his 13th top-5 finish in the last 14 races at Martinsville. Gordon remained 10th in the series standings.
Road Ahead: The Texas race weekend is next on the Cup series agenda. More importantly, I’ll be in Charlotte next weekend to lead The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation team in the Charlotte CureSearch Walk in Freedom Park on November 5.