Ryan Newman claimed a surprise NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Martinsville following mayhem in a green-white-checkered finish.
The Stewart-Haas driver emerged an unexpected winner, claiming the lead ahead of the final restart after a first attempt to finish the race under green ended with a multi-car incident ignited by contact between Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer and the leading Hendrick Motorsports duo of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
"We were not a dominant racecar today but we put ourselves in contention," Newman said. "The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires and Clint kind of clearing out Turn 1 for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
"We have been in that position here and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's nice to be able to at least balance it out."
The race looked set to give team owner Rick Hendrick his 200th Cup victory after Gordon had led 329 laps, with Johnson also leading 111. Gordon had just reclaimed the lead from his teammate four laps from the end, when David Reutimann's car stopped on track, forcing the caution to come out.
Hendrick cars were running 1-2-3 at the time, but as strategies unfolded, Earnhardt pitted as others for fuel and two tires, while his teammates remained at the front to try and fight it out between themselves, as they had for most of the last quarter of the distance.
However, on the first green-white-checkered attempt, Bowyer got a better restart than both Hendrick drivers and from behind his Toyota got bumped by the Hendrick-powered Chevrolet of Newman before braking for Turn 1. The MWR Toyota dived aggressively down the inside of Gordon and Johnson and the resulting contact caused them all to spin.
The chaos left damage to both Hendrick cars, leaving them out of contention for victory. The squad's fourth car of polesitter Kesey Kahne had previously retired with an engine failure.
On the final restart Newman seized his opportunity to grab his first win of the season, holding off the charging Penske Dodge of AJ Allmendinger in the final mile of racing to give Stewart Haas Racing its third win in the first six races of the season.
Allmendinger's second place was his best career finish in Cup thus far, despite having started the day feeling ill and needing a visit to the Infield Care Center.
In some consolation for Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt crossed the line third and moved up to second in the Cup standings, while Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five.
Results - 515 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 3h26m12.000s
2. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 0.537s
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.147s
4. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 1.277s
5. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 1.559s
6. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 1.730s
7. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 2.447s
8. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 2.967s
9. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 3.827s
10. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 17.795s
11. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 18.430s
12. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 28.538s
13. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 1 lap
14. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 1 lap
15. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap
16. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 2 laps
17. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 2 laps
18. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota + 2 laps
19. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 2 laps
20. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 2 laps
21. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 3 laps
22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 3 laps
23. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 4 laps
24. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 4 laps
25. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 4 laps
26. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 5 laps
27. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 5 laps
28. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 6 laps
29. Landon Cassill BK Toyota + 8 laps
30. David Stremme Inception Toyota + 9 laps
31. Hermie Sadler Childress Chevrolet + 10 laps
32. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford + 12 laps
33. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 18 laps
Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 439 laps
David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 436 laps
Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 435 laps
JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 359 laps
Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 256 laps
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 74 laps
Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 60 laps
Josh Wise Front Row Ford 49 laps
Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 30 laps
Reed Sorenson Turn One Chevrolet 25 laps