Three drivers post first
top-tens of season at Martinsville

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Paul Menard practices Friday at Martinsville Speedway.

By Dominic Aragon
April 4, 2015

Three drivers scored their first top-ten finishes of 2016 Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman placed seventh, eighth and tenth respectively in the STP 500.

Vickers’ third place starting position was his highest of the season and best qualifying effort since October 2014 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Vickers ran as high as second place and was one of four drivers to run all 500 laps inside the top-15, according to loop data.

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Ryan Newman leads A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville Speedway Sunday.

“We had such a good car, we were so fast,” he said. “I don’t know if the track changed or we had different tire codes today. It just wasn’t quite as good as practice all weekend.

“But I’m really proud of the effort by the guys. We had a great car. It was a top-ten. Gosh, we wanted to win this race for Arnie’s Army and everybody.”

It was Vickers’ first top-ten since Kansas Speedway in October 2014.

Menard started fourth Sunday, his best qualifying effort of 2016 and in the last 24 Sprint Cup races.

The Richard Childress Racing driver led ten laps, matching his total laps led across 2015.

The amount was also the most he’s led in a single race since Talladega in May 2014.

“We had a really fast car all weekend,” Menard said. “Top-ten in all the practice sessions, qualified fourth and drove up and took the lead.  Led a little bit and we started with a little bit higher air pressure to start the race.  

“We just gave up too much.  Kind of got backwards and then had a set of tires that had a loose wheel, it was back in the middle part of the race and just battled back.  Really fast car all weekend.  Just trying to tune on it throughout the race.”

Menard will enter next weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway 20th in the point standings, six points behind the Chase cutline.

Newman started fifth, his third top-five qualifying effort of 2016.

The third-year RCR driver ran as high as fourth, posting the fastest lap eight times.

“Coming into this race I told the team that they had given me the best car I've ever had at Martinsville Speedway,” he said. “The opening laps we were a top-five car despite a tight-handling condition. Our lap times especially held up during the longer the green-flag runs.

“... Glad to see this team rally back for a top-ten because we had another good car and now a decent finish to reflect it.”

Newman sits 19th in the point standings, five points behind the Chase cutline.

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