NASCAR STP 500 at Martinsville results, standings: Clint Bowyer wins first race since 2012

Clint Bowyer won the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Monday to punch his ticket into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The win was Bowyer's first trip to Victory Lane since 2012 when he took the checkered flag at Charlotte.

Barring post-race inspection, Bowyer will join Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, last year's champion Martin Truex Jr. and 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon in the playoffs. The win was Bowyer's first since taking over for Tony Stewart in the No. 14. Bowyer also led 215 laps, 159 more than he did between the 2015-17 seasons. 

Denny Hamlin dominated Stage 1 en route to his first green-and-white checkered of the season. It was his first stage win at a short track. Brad Keselowski finished the stage second followed by Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer to round out the top five. 

Blaney locked his No. 12 into cruise control, leading 121 laps to win Stage 2. Bowyer made a strong case for the lead, but ultimately couldn't make the pass as he finished the stage second. Kyle Busch, Keselowski and Hamlin shaped out the top five in the second stage.

After the race, a variety of NASCAR drivers took to Twitter to congratulate the race winner.

STP 500 at Martinsville results

  1. Clint Bowyer
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Ryan Blaney
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Kevin Harvick
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Alex Bowman
  8. AJ Allmendinger
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Kurt Busch
  12. Denny Hamlin
  13. Paul Menard
  14. Aric Almirola
  15. Jimmie Johnson
  16. Kyle Larson
  17. Erik Jones
  18. Daniel Suarez
  19. Ryan Newman
  20. William Byron
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Ty Dillon
  23. Chris Buescher
  24. Kasey Kahne
  25. David Ragan
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. Cole Whitt
  28. DJ Kennington
  29. Ross Chastain
  30. Austin Dillon
  31. JJ Yeley
  32. Matt DiBenedetto
  33. Trevor Bayne
  34. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  35. Harrison Rhodes
  36. Gray Gaulding
  37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  38. Landon Cassill

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series unofficial standings

POSITIONDRIVERCAR #POINTSBEHINDWINS

1.

Kyle Busch

18

257

N/A

0

2.

Martin Truex Jr

78

249

-8

1

3.

Ryan Blaney

12

233

-24

0

4.

Joey Logano

22

232

-25

0

5.

Brad Keselowski

2

226

-31

0

6.

Denny Hamlin

11

217

-40

0

7.

Kevin Harvick

4

212

-45

3

8.

Clint Bowyer

14

210

-47

1

9.

Kyle Larson

42

195

-62

0

10.

Kurt Busch

41

177

-80

0

11.

Aric Almirola

10

171

-86

0

12.

Erik Jones

20

152

-105

0

13.

Austin Dillon

3

148

-109

0

14.

Alex Bowman

88

145

-112

0

15.

Paul Menard

21

139

-118

0

16.

Ryan Newman

31

135

-122

0

Driver names in BOLD indicate that they have clinched a spot in the NASCAR playoffs

Miss any of the action? Don't worry we've got you covered. Check out our live blog below to catch up on highlights, analysis and more from Monday's race at The Paperclip. 

Stage 1: Denny Hamlin, Toyotas dominate

Martin Truex Jr. started the race on the pole via owner points after qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather. Kyle Busch took the lead from the No. 78 within 10 laps as his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin began charging toward the lead.

Hamlin took the lead from Busch less than 30 laps into the race as Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski of Team Penske bumped Truex down to fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started the race from the rear and fell victim to the short-track, going a lap down early in the stage. Hamlin remained the leader as the competition caution flag came out on Lap 50. 

Darrell "Bubba" Wallace seemed to have a tire go flat after the competition caution and got into JJ Yeley. The rubbing wasn't enough to bring out a caution but Wallace had to come down pit road. His No. 43 team was penalized under the previous yellow for speeding on pit road. His miserable day continued as he took his car to the garage to make further repairs later on.

Hamlin continued to lead as Keselowski moved up to second in front of teammate Ryan Blaney. AJ Allmendinger surprised people by cracking the top 10 after starting 25th. Keselowski made his move on Hamlin towards the end of the stage, but it wasn't enough with lapped traffic in the way as Hamlin drove on to take the green-and-white checkered.

Stage 1 results: 

  1. Denny Hamlin (10 points, plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Brad Keselowski (9 points)
  3. Ryan Blaney (8 points)
  4. Kyle Busch (7 points)
  5. Clint Bowyer (6 points)
  6. Kevin Harvick (5 points)
  7. AJ Allmendinger (4 points) 
  8. Kurt Busch (3 points)
  9. Joey Logano (2 points)
  10. Jimmie Johnson (1 point)

Stage 2: Ryan Blaney cruises as Clint Bowyer climbs

Blaney won the race off pit road under yellow between stages and held off Hamlin for the lead when they went green. As Blaney kicked it into cruise control, Hamlin dropped to fifth while Clint Bowyer cracked the top five for the first time on Monday. 

Bowyer continued his charge towards the front, moving into second place and gaining ground on Blaney as the stage neared its end. Lapped traffic played a part as Bowyer cut Blaney's lead from two seconds to less than half a second before the green-and-white checkered came out. 

Stage 2 results: 

  1. Ryan Blaney (10 points, plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Clint Bowyer (9 points)
  3. Kyle Busch (8 points)
  4. Brad Keselowski (7 points)
  5. Denny Hamlin (6 points)
  6. Kevin Harvick (5 points)
  7. Kurt Busch (4 points)
  8. AJ Allmendinger (3 points)
  9. Joey Logano (2 points)
  10. Jimmie Johnson (1 point)

Final Stage: Clint Bowyer finally gets it done

Despite a strong restart by Blaney from the lead, Bowyer took the top position from the No. 12 on Lap 287. Blaney continued to fall back in the pack, forfeiting position to Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Harvick early on. Similarly to what Blaney and Hamlin did early on, Bowyer began building a lead early in the stage. Just like Bowyer did to Blaney, Busch began making ground on Bowyer as he led. 

Busch began to inch closer as Bowyer encountered notoriously-hard-to-pass-in-lapped-traffic driver Ryan Newman. 

Jamie McMurray finally spiced things up a little bit, going spinning on lap 386 and bringing out the caution. It was a huge break for Bowyer, who was going to have to pit for fuel under green in the coming laps. Chase Elliott also caught a bit of luck, getting the free pass after being the first driver a lap down.

Aric Almirola was running fast lap times before the caution, but was caught for speeding on pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Hamlin also had a rough go of things under yellow, being forced to come back down pit road to repair the nose of his car.

Bowyer restarted strong from the lead and held off an immediate challenge from Kyle Busch. Blaney seemed to make the proper adjustments under yellow, climbing up to third in front of Truex and Harvick. Kurt Busch was running strong but got loose with less than 400 to go and fell back on the lead lap. Bowyer continued to build his lead. 

Trevor Bayne lost it with less than 50 to go and hit the wall. Fortunately, however, for Bowyer, the caution flag did not fly as Bayne was able to bring the No. 6 onto pit road without issue. Bowyer was then able to drive on to his first victory since 2012.

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