Alex Bowman wasn’t the dominant car of the day. That designation goes to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott. However, when it came down to the end of 500 laps around the half-mile paperclip, it was the Arizona-native that capitalized on an opportunity to take the lead and capture his fourth victory of 2021 at Martinsville Speedway.
Although the completion of the race’s final lead change wasn’t exactly the smoothest of the event, it got the job done, after contact between Bowman and Denny Hamlin sent the No. 11 Toyota Camry spinning in turn four, sacrificing the sizeable gap that the Joe Gibbs Racing driver had on the cutline entering the event.
On the final restart of the race, in NASCAR Overtime, Bowman held off a hard-charge from Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, two drivers who needed to visit victory lane in order to advance to Phoenix Raceway with a chance at hoisting the championship trophy.
The pair finished second and third but had frustrations of their own arise exiting the final corner of the race, as Keselowski’s No. 2 broke traction and made some contact with the No. 18. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to save the car from nosing into the inside wall but made a point to let the Team Penske driver know he was upset, driving across the nose of the No. 2 after the race.
Martin Truex Jr. finished in fourth but had to overcome a significant amount of adversity in the final laps of the race, which saw the right-front fender survive an intense tire rub throughout the last 40 laps of the event. Ultimately, it was a smart choice in which lane to restart in for NASCAR Overtime that allowed the Joe Gibbs Racing team to advance to Phoenix.
William Byron rounded out the top-five, with Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher, and Joey Logano all earning finishes inside the top-10.
Chase Elliott dominated the early portion of the event – leading 289 of the first 380 laps of the event — but fell victim to a number of poor adjustments and jumbled-up restarts. The defending series champion would finish in 16th, after getting turned around by Brad Keselowski – who had to win to get in — in the closing laps of the event.
Ryan Blaney, another contender in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, had a myriad of issues throughout the 500-lap event, many of which occurred in the first 100 laps when contact between himself and Austin Dillon wrinkled the left-rear fender of his Menards Mustang. Blaney ended the race in 11th, while Dillon had his fair share of problems, finishing 13th after cutting down right-front tires on two separate occasions.
Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr, and Denny Hamlin were the four drivers that will advance to Phoenix Raceway next weekend with a chance at the series title, while Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch have all been eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.