Kyle Busch wins the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at the 0.526-mile oval. He also swept the weekend at Martinsville by winning the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 the day prior. Busch is the first driver to ever sweep a weekend at Martinsville. AJ Allmendinger finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Brad Keselowski. Busch was able to lead 352 of the 500 laps in the STP 500.
Busch’s win at Martinsville leaves him with only three more tracks to win at in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He now has to win at Pocono, Kansas, and Charlotte. Today’s win was his 35th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Busch also has led the most laps at Martinsville since Bobby Hamilton led 378 laps in 1998.
Busch was excited about the win and the car his team brought to Martinsville. “It was a really good car, obviously with practice and everything and learning some things about the car and the track yesterday, we were able to have a really good piece, and we knew that, understood that, and then we were able to come out here today and put it all together and have a really good piece all throughout the race, as well. Leading as many laps as we did, that was really good for us. It was a confidence boost for me as well, too, just being up front that much. I've never really felt like I've had a car to be able to do that in years past, but Adam and the guys were able to give that to me this time around. So pumped about the things that I learned here this weekend, let alone the years past or years prior that I was able to learn, and of course my teammates that helped me out a lot here over the years, so to be able to finally put it all together is pretty cool, and take home not one but two Martinsville trophies, Martinsville clocks is pretty awesome.”
Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, talked about what this win means to him and the team. “You know, this is a big win for myself, for Kyle and this whole team. It hasn't been one of our strongest places, maybe for JGR, but not for myself and Kyle historically. I think we made some good ground last year with David Ragan's help in the spring and Kyle coming back in the fall, and I think his level of feedback really picked up as he really understood what he needed in his car, and that helped us as a team make better adjustments, and continuing through the race today, I think we got him dialed in a little bit better than he has been able to in the past because he could really identify what he was looking for.
Second place finisher, AJ Allmendinger, was pumped about where his team is at and his finish at Martinsville. “You know, Randall Burnett, first-year crew chief, Ernie Cope coming aboard, they've made a huge difference. My crew chief last year, Brian Burns, kind of going down back to his engineering role and Tony Palmer, that was the engineer last year, being kind of the second race engineer, everybody has just embraced their roles. It's made this team a lot of fun to be around, Tad and Jodi Geschickter, they've really put that extra effort into the race team this year to get the personnel. Anybody that saw our car, obviously get the sponsors, as well, and pit crew really stepped up. The last two weeks they've been awesome. Just a solid race.”
Third place finisher, Kyle Larson, who has had a dismal season so far, was excited to get his first top-five at Martinsville. “I was able to do double duty this week, and I think that definitely helped me get my rhythm early in the weekend and better myself each time I was on the track. Our car was way better than it has been here in the past. I felt like I learned a lot throughout that race. I was able to run behind great drivers here, AJ, Jimmie, Kevin, Kurt, Keselowski, there was a lot of people that I could learn off of. You know, this was -- in the past it's been my worst racetrack on the schedule, so to get a top-three finish here feels great, feels like a win to be honest, and hopefully this is a good momentum shift that we need. We've been struggling all year long so far and been working hard, but it hasn't paid off. It's nice to, like I said, be on the podium here and go on to Texas, a track where I've ran good in the past at and hopefully get a solid finish there, also.”
There were many drivers who were not expected to be towards the top of the leaderboard. Brian Vickers, subbing for the injured Tony Stewart, finished in the seventh position. Paul Menard finished in the eighth position. Although he is usually strong at Martinsville, Denny Hamlin will be credited with a 39th place finish due to an accident.
The STP 500 saw an average speed of 88.088 mph. There were 11 lead changes among five different drivers. The time of the race was 3 hours, 17 minutes, and 2 seconds. The caution flag flew eight times for 51 laps. The margin of victory was .663 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500, the first Saturday night race of the season. Coverage for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas will begin at 5:30 pm on Thursday, April 7th on Fox Sports 1.