So close, yet so far. That's the best way to describe how Sunday's action at Martinsville ended up. Sure, one can use words like "crazy" and "outrageous" to describe how it ended, but that's exactly what Hendrick Motorsports must be thinking right now.
All afternoon, the dominant car was Jeff Gordon. That's not uncommon at Martinsville, as he leads all active drivers with seven wins at the track. Jimmie Johnson got in on the action, as he's been strong since 2004 at this facility.
Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. was up in the front, competing for victory. Denny Hamlin saw life near the front, running well as he's prone to do.
At the end of 505 laps, and two green-white-checkered attempts, the winner was...Ryan Newman?
Well, when one gets a strong push, as Clint Bowyer did on the next-to-last caution, which is still a moment that even the veteran drivers can't explain, there was no room to move. Johnson got spun around, Gordon got heavy damage, eventually running out of fuel on track.
Earnhardt Jr. made a charge, even after pitting for fuel, and got up to third. But no, it was the Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet making it to victory lane, and thus earning the second straight grandfather clock for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The crazy finish surprisingly did not jumble up the point standings in the pool very much. Some moved up, but for the most part held their positions.
Take a look at where everyone now stacks up after the Goody's Fast Relief 500:
Misan Ayuka (236) Denny Hamlin finished 6th (1)
James Broomhead (221) Denny Hamlin finished 6th (0)
Billy Fellin (214) Denny Hamlin finished 6th (1)
Rob Tiongson (206) Tony Stewart finished 7th (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (206) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th (0)
Christopher Leone (200) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd (0)
Kara Martin (186) Denny Hamlin finished 6th (0)
Kelly Crandall (183) Denny Hamlin finished 6th (1)
Patti Rodisch (168) Jeff Gordon finished 14th (0)
Ryan O'Hara (158) Jeff Gordon finished 14th (0)
Michael Hirshbein (149) Kyle Busch finished 36th (0)
Dustin Parks (147) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 3rd (0)
Next Race: The one advantage Martinsville has given everyone is that now, there's an extra seven days to cool off and forget about what happened. Finally, after six races, NASCAR is giving the drivers a break to enjoy the Easter holiday.
Certainly helps because after enjoying all the ham and colored eggs associated with Easter, it's onto the first Saturday night race of the season. It certainly couldn't happen at a better time as night racing has proven to be the popular destination for fans, and this time, it's going to happen deep in the heart of Texas. The Texas Motor Speedway is preparing for it's own stampede, but instead of a herd of cows, it's 43, 800-horsepower stock cars.
Writers, you get a big break this week as the extra seven days could prove big in deciding who you will go with. Your picks for the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas will be due by 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 12.
Happy Easter everyone.