February 26, 2024

Bowman Scores 4th Win as Mayhem Erupts in Martinsville

Martinsville marked the final opportunity for 7 drivers to claim their spot in the Final 4 and race for a championship next week. For some drivers like Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, the task was not too daunting due to a respectable points cushion heading into the race. For Kyle Larson, there was no stress at all, having already locked himself into the next round via wins at Texas and Kansas. However, for Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Blaney, every point mattered and winning was the only guaranteed way to advance.

LAP 1: Kyle Larson led the field to green from pole position alongside his teammate, Chase Elliott. Larson started on the top lane which allowed him to get a good jump on Elliott and settle into the lead heading into Turn 1.

LAP 57: After falling back to third, Elliott fought back and eventually made the pass on Larson to claim the lead.

CAUTION – LAP 60: The yellow flag waved for the competition caution so teams could check tire wear and make adjustments. Larson narrowly won the race off pit road to take the lead back for the restart, but Elliott got by him shortly after the race restarted.

CAUTION – LAP 72: A crash in Turn 2 collected the #34 of Michael McDowell and the #6 of Ryan Newman, who spun and came to a stop in the middle of the track.

LAP 93: For the second week in a row, playoff-driver Ryan Blaney tangled with non-playoff-driver Austin Dillon in the #3. Dillon drove into the left-rear of Blaney’s #12 Ford in Turn 3, which crippled the metal and created fueling issues that Blaney battled all day long.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 130: Chase Elliott won the stage and picked up the playoff point to help carry him to the final round of the playoffs. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr, William Byron, and Brad Keselowski completed the top 5 at the stage end. Kyle Larson was caught speeding on pit road and had to start the second stage from the tail end of the field while Elliott remained in the top spot.

CAUTION – LAP 197: Having sustained damage earlier when he collided with Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon brought out the caution when his right-front tire went down and caused him to hit the wall in Turn 2.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 260: Chase Elliott won the second stage and with it, locked himself into the Championship 4 on points. Behind him, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the Top 5.

CAUTION – LAP 311: The #34 of Michael McDowell got into the left-rear of the #7 of Corey Lajoie. This push Lajoie into the rear of the #52 of Josh Bilicki, who spun up the track.

CAUTION – LAP 323: Just 3 laps after the restart, the #00 of Quin Houff spun after making contact with the #52 of Bilicki. Houff was quite displeased with the incident and spun Bilicki under caution. NASCAR held Houff for 5 laps as a penalty for his dangerous and unsportsmanlike conduct.

CAUTION – LAP 339: The caution came out once again when the #42 of Ross Chastain made contact with Ryan Newman. The two sustained significant damage but were able to continue racing.

CAUTION – LAP 358: Cole Custer in the #41 Ford Mustang spun by himself in Turn 3 and brought out the 7th caution flag of the day despite that he did not make contact with anyone else.

CAUTION – LAP 378: The #99 of Daniel Suarez got loose in Turn 2 and spun. All the leaders pitted during the caution except for Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick, and Cole Custer, which shook up the running order.

LAP 389: Denny Hamlin in the #11 made the pass and secured the lead. Hamlin had started the race at the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection multiple times.

CAUTION – LAP 436: Austin Dillon brought out the caution again when he spun in Turn 2. The lead-lap cars pitted to take their last set of sticker tires, with Hamlin retaining the 1st position.

CAUTION – LAP 455: While racing for second place, a desperate Brad Keselowski pushed Chase Elliott up the track in Turn 3. Elliott spun and lost track position, which ended his shot at winning.

CAUTION – LAP 462: On the restart, the #47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr spun in Turns 3 and 4. While trying to avoid the #47, Bubba Wallace in the #43 made contact with Elliott’s #9, which created an even bigger wreck.

CAUTION – LAP 472: The 12th yellow flag of the day was brought out by Ryan Preece, who spun with two flat right-side tires.

LAP 480: The race restarted with just 20 laps to go, with Hamlin in the lead and Alex Bowman in P2. The two drivers battled intensely, swapping the lead back and forth.

CAUTION – LAP 494: Heading into Turn 4, Bowman got loose under Hamlin and go into the side of the #11. This spun Hamlin up the track and caused him to fall to 24th place. This caution forced the race to go into overtime, resulting in a green-white-checkered finish.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 501: Alex Bowman survived the restart and the 2-lap shootout to the checkered flag to bring home his 4th victory of the season. Having been eliminated from the playoffs in the previous round, Bowman’s win did not make him eligible for the championship race, however, both his teammates – Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott – along with Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin made the Final 4.

Tempers flared in post-race as Hamlin impeded Bowman’s burn-out celebration:

RESULTS:

  1. Alex Bowman
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Martin Truex Jr
  5. William Byron
  6. Aric Almirola
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Chris Buescher
  10. Joey Logano
  11. Ryan Blaney
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Austin Dillon
  14. Kyle Larson
  15. Matt DiBenedetto
  16. Chase Ellliott
  17. Christopher Bell
  18. Tyler Reddick
  19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  20. Anthony Alfredo
  21. Corey Lajoie
  22. Chase Briscoe
  23. Cole Custer
  24. Denny Hamlin
  25. Bubba Wallace
  26. Michael McDowell
  27. Ross Chastain
  28. Daniel Suarez
  29. BJ McLeod
  30. Cody Ware
  31. Justin Haley
  32. Ryan Newman
  33. Garrett Smithley
  34. Quin Houff
  35. Josh Bilicki
  36. Ryan Preece
  37. Timmy Hill
  38. Joey Gase