MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon had dominant cars at Martinsville, but neither won. For the second consecutive race at the track, some late tangling with each other had a lot to do with it.
Bowyer, who led 154 laps, finished sixth, and Gordon was eighth after leading 92 laps.
"I was door-to-door with him and he just turned left to block me and I was already there," Bowyer said about Gordon, a four-time series champion who was stuck in the outside lane on a late restart. "I hit the brakes and wheel-hopped. I hit him so hard and tried to stay off him. It was a bad deal right there. You can see I was there and he just kept turning left on me and I was like, `Hey, you better not do that.' It is what it is. It was a good day for us."
In the spring on the 0.526-mile oval, Bowyer's daring late move to the inside of turn one wiped out himself, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, costing all three of them a chance at the victory. This time, Gordon said he wasn't sure exactly what happened.
"We were on the outside and I mean we were sitting ducks on the outside," Gordon said. "I was just trying to get down. I felt like I got down in front of him, but maybe I didn't. I don't know."
There were no hard feelings, Gordon said.
"I like Clint a lot. We race really hard together and we were just racing hard right there," he said.
Bowyer said getting beat out of the pits late cost him as much as anything else.
"Man, I thought we had a car capable of winning," he said.
Just like in the spring.
MISUNDERSTANDING: Denny Hamlin's two penalties for entering pit road didn't cost him, but left him somewhat confused.
He said the way his team measured his speed and the way NASCAR did didn't match up, and he twice was sent to the back of the field.
"I think that there was something more to that than what we thought," he said of the calculations. "Nothing we couldn't overcome. We still drove our tails right back up to the front twice and passed the (Johnson) about four times."
Hamlin finished 33rd, and saw his championship hopes wiped away, after an electrical problem sent him to the garage.
"It's frustrating," he said. "What can you do?"
OLD TIMER'S DAY: NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson, Leonard Wood, Ned Jarrett and Dale Inman spent some time sharing recollections Sunday, and Johnson and Jarrett shared the title for the best story.
Johnson said the first time he ever used a two-way radio was at Martinsville, and it didn't go well.
"I was about three laps on the field and (one of the team owners) got on the radio and said `Slow down,'" Johnson said, describing one of his two victories at the track. "Well I slowed down but the car started pushing when I slowed down, so I just picked it back up to where when I'd go in and turn it, it would go around the race track and not try to go into the wall. And he kept on talking to me and finally got to cussing and I cut the radio off and went back to driving it like I did and I lapped the field again ... and he fired me when the race was over. That's the most action I ever had out here."
Jarrett never won as a driver at Martinsville, but later worked as a broadcaster.
"I was working in the pits for the Motor Racing Network and Richard Petty was leading the race," Jarrett said, "... and the restroom sits pretty close to where it sits now, pretty close to pit road.
"I had told them during the break that I needed to go to the restroom and it was 50, 60 laps before the pit stops were coming up and they said `OK, go ahead.' And Richard Petty made an unscheduled pit stop, think he had a tire going down or something, and they threw it down to me and there I was, standing in the john. Well, I heard him come into the pits, `Richard Petty is coming in for an unscheduled pit stop,' ... I heard him stop and I had my stopwatch and I clicked it on as soon as he stopped and I could hear it when he left, I could hear the air wrench and everything going on, so I just described the pit stop and when he went back out I told everyone how long it took him to make the pit stop ... and it worked."
NUTS AND BOLTS: When Matt Kenseth crossed the start-finish line Sunday, he gave Jack Roush 3,000 starts as a car owner. Roush's teams have won two Sprint Cup championships, 130 races and 84 poles, but they had a rough day at Martinsville. Greg Biffle finished 10th, Matt Kenseth 14th and Carl Edwards 18th. ... The curbs in the turns were painted bright pink to recognize breast cancer awareness month. ... Johnson's victory was the 12th of the season for Chevrolet, clinching the 10th consecutive manufacturer's title for the automaker and 36th overall.