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Smoke Rises To the Occasion



In what ended up being a wild race at the Martinsville Speedway, Tony Stewart shocked most, as he went on to win Sunday afternoon. I say most because there were some of the SportsRantz NASCAR Fan Council that did pick Smoke to be the winner.

Tony Stewart passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on the final restart with three laps remaining in the Tums Fast Relief 500 to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in five years.

Johnson finished second, followed by Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. Surprisingly enough, Carl Edwards rallied after falling a lap down twice to finish ninth. With Edwards’ top-10 finish, he maintains his point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings with only three races remaining.

However, Edwards lead is slim- just a mere eight points over Stewart, who had a ‘little’ message for the Roush Fenway Racing driver. “He better be worried. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Stewart said. “He isn’t going to have an easy three weeks.”

There are only three races left during the 2011 version of the Chase for the Sprint Cup: Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. Traditionally, Edwards has performed well at the latter two, but that doesn’t mean he can’t run well during all three races.

Martinsville’s tight confines weren’t so kind to Chase contenders Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, as both drivers were collected in a multicar pileup with 36 laps remaining. Kenseth, who entered the race ranked second in points behind Edwards, went to the garage for major repairs and finished 31st and didn’t have a lot of good words to say about Martinsville and the racing there.

Sunday’s race featured a season-high 18 caution flags (the most at Martinsville Speedway since a record 19 in October 2005). But what gives? As plenty of tempers were flared at Martinsville, will anything carry over to the Texas Motor Speedway next weekend? I am sure we will see our fair share of fireworks on and off the track at Texas.