MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Ryan Newman won a lot of fans Sunday with a victory in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, while David Reutimann lost a lot of friends inside the garage area.
Anyone who visits Newman’s sponsor, Outback Steakhouse, today can get a free bloomin’ onion simply by mentioning Newman’s name. It’s a bonus offered by the steakhouse chain for a top-10 finish.
Mentioning Reutimann might not go as well.
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were side-by-side for the lead with two laps to go when Reutimann’s car stopped at the end of the main straightaway. He slowed dramatically several laps earlier, but he refused to pull into the pits.
The caution for Reutimann’s stall set up a wild restart among 13 lead-lap cars. The mad dash to the first turn was three-wide, two-deep, and it quickly turned into a big crash. Johnson, Gordon and third-place Clint Bowyer all spun, while Newman, who restarted fifth, shot through the carnage to take the lead.
He easily held off A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped from ninth to second in the crash, in a two-lap, green-white-checkered finish.
“We were not a dominant race car, but we put ourselves in contention,” Newman said. “We got circumstances there, plus we were in the right position.”
Drivers raised questions as to why Reutimann didn’t pull off the track when he had a problem.
“I would like to hear a good excuse,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “I’m sure it would be laughable.”
Reutimann said he was trying to limp around the track to keep his car ranked in the top 35, which means he gets a provisional exemption into the next race.
“I don’t even know how the race ended up finishing, but I just hate that I was involved in anything that changed the complexion of the race so I got to apologize to the guys that it affected,” he said. “It broke a tie rod or something like that. I was just trying to limp around there. … I would not have stopped on the freaking race track. The thing quit going down the back straightaway, and it shut off. I just didn’t stop there intentionally. I hate it for everybody that it affected, but I mean I can’t get out and push the thing.”