Jeff Gordon wins the 2013 Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Geoff Burke

Late pass of Matt Kenseth gives Jeff Gordon his first victory of the season.

Jeff Gordon passed Matt Kenseth with 21 laps to go and went on to win the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

It was Gordon's first win of the season and the eighth of his career at the .526-mile track that has been hosting NASCAR races since 1949. It also helped Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, hang on to at least a piece of the lead along with Kenseth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings with three races remaining in the season.

Johnson finished fifth. He and Kenseth are tied for the Chase lead heading into next Sunday's AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, while Gordon moved into third.

Kenseth, who had struggled mightily in the past at Martinsville, appeared in command but ended up barely holding off Clint Bowyer to finish second after Gordon made his nifty pass to the inside going into Turn 1 on Lap 479 of the 500-lap event.

Johnson entered the day with a four-point advantage on Kenseth in the Chase standings. The pair spent the day sparring, trying different strategies as the numerous cautions continued to mount on the .526-mile paper clip, the only short track on the 10-race Chase schedule.

At times, Johnson and Kenseth took turns running up front. Then one would fall back, only to rally again.

Gordon, meanwhile, kept lurking in the vicinity of the Chase leaders. Now he can be called one of them, as he at least injected himself into the championship conversation heading to Texas.

It appeared before the race that Johnson would have a huge advantage over Kenseth at Martinsville. While Johnson entered with eight career wins, 16 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 23 career starts at the track, Kenseth had never won and had registered only three top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 27 career starts. To put it in even better perspective, Johnson entered the day having led a total of 2,327 laps in his career at Martinsville; Kenseth had led a total of 169 out of more than 13,000 laps he had run there.

Those numbers meant nothing when it came right down to it Sunday.

Kenseth led early, fell as far back as 21st, then rallied again when a series of repeated pit stops for fresh tires and chassis adjustments cycled his No. 20 Toyota back to the front. He ended up leading a race-high 202 laps to 123 for Johnson, gaining a crucial bonus point in that head-to-head battle. But he could not hold off Gordon in the end.

More from SB Nation:

Complete coverage of the 2013 Sprint Cup Chase

Kevin Harvick apologizes for 'spoiled rich kids' comments

Harvick, Dillon feud at Martinsville

Brad Keselowski: Doctors don't understand our sport

The good times, hard life and shocking death of Dick Trickle

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.