Defending truck champion Crafton wins at Martinsville
Martinsville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Crafton held off the field in several late-race restarts, including a green-white-checkered finish, to win Sunday's Kroger 250 Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway, which was delayed one day due to rain
The truck race was the second in a NASCAR doubleheader at this 0.526-mile, paper clip-shaped oval. Kurt Busch won the Sprint Cup Series race here earlier in the day. Persistent rain on Saturday forced the postponement of the truck event.
Crafton, who won the Truck Series championship last year, struggled for most of this race, dealing with an ill-handling truck, before he grabbed the lead from Timothy Peters on lap 208.
"We were terrible at the beginning of the day," Crafton said. "I'm not going to lie. We were terrible. We were really, really tight. I didn't think we were going to get it right there on those first two runs, but these guys [No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota team] never give up."
With just a little daylight left, a rash of cautions occurred within the final 50 laps. Erik Jones, driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, spun around when he made contact with Johnny Sauter after a restart in the closing laps. It forced the two-lap overtime finish.
The race went six laps past its scheduled 250-lap distance and ended under caution for a crash on the backstretch.
It was the first time Crafton won a truck race at Martinsville in 25 attempts. Crafton had finished second here two times, including a runner-up to teammate Sauter in last year's spring event. Crafton also claimed his fourth career victory in the series. He had only one win (Kansas) during his 2013 title season.
"This is definitely one of those places where you want to win, just because that grandfather clock is such an awesome trophy to have in your house, and we finally got it," Crafton said.
Crafton, who led a a total of 47 laps, became the 23rd different driver to win in 31 truck races at Martinsville. This race also featured a track record 17 lead changes.
Darrell Wallace Jr., who won his first truck race last October at Martinsville, finished second. He started on the pole and led 34 laps.
"Just couldn't get it done," Wallace said. "I was loosing a little bit of right-rear grip off of the corners, and I was trying to save as much as I could. I thought I had enough saved there for that green-white-checkered but just couldn't get it done."
Rookie Ben Kennedy placed third, followed by Sauter and Ryan Blaney. Peters ended up finishing sixth, and German Quiroga was seventh.
Peters finished a close second to Kyle Busch in the Feb. 21 season-opening truck race at Daytona.
Ben Rhodes, who made his first career truck start, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Brian Ickler completed the top-10. Hornaday led the most laps with 62 but crashed into the wall late in the race when he made contact with Quiroga.
03/31 00:01:38 ET