Hamlin wins another fall truck race at Martinsville|
Martinsville, VA (Sports Network) - Virginia-native Denny Hamlin won a truck
race at Martinsville Speedway for the second year in a row by taking
Saturday's Kroger 200.
Hamlin, a Sprint Cup Series regular, had to start from the rear of the field
since he missed the drivers' meeting, which started just prior to final Cup
practice earlier in the day. After making his way through the 36-truck field,
Hamlin took the lead for the first time with six laps remaining when he bumped
then leader Matt Crafton out of the way. He then crossed the finish line 1.9
seconds ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr.
It was Hamlin's second career win in trucks. Last year, he scored his maiden
win in the series at this 0.526-mile racetrack, which is located roughly 170
miles southwest from his hometown of Chesterfield, Va.
"I love this place, and that's short-track racing at its finest," Hamlin said.
"I gave the 88 (Crafton) extra room on the outside. I went into the second
lane and didn't want to crowd him into one. I tried to pass him on the
outside. He moved up into me and pushed me into the third groove. I got back
into him. I didn't wreck him or anything like that. It's just contact at
Martinsville, and I would expect the same from anybody else."
After the race concluded, Crafton approached Hamlin on pit road while Hamlin
was still inside of his truck. The two had a discussion about their encounter
on the track, but there was no altercation.
Hamlin drove the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Rick Ren served as
his crew chief.
"I just got to thank everybody who's a part of this program, because I don't
get race these (truck) races that often, so I got to take advantage of them
when I can," Hamlin added.
Hamlin is one of the 12 drivers battling for this year's Sprint Cup
championship. He enters Sunday's 500-lap race at Martinsville trailing leader
Brad Keselowski by 20 points. Hamlin will start fifth in that race, the same
position he qualified for the truck event.
While Hamlin took the checkered flag at Martinsville, James Buescher's sixth-
place finish coupled with a disappointing 28th-place run for rookie Ty Dillon
allowed Buescher to take a 21-point lead over Dillon. Just three races remain
-- Texas (Nov. 2), Phoenix (Nov. 9) and Homestead (Nov. 16).
Buescher entered this 200-lap race only one point behind Dillon. It appeared
during the first half of the event that his points deficit would be larger
when he was running one lap behind in 28th while dealing with tire issues.
"The second half of practice we got better, and the second half of the race we
turned it around too," Buescher said. "This team knows to never give up. We
came from two laps down to win a race this year. Now, we came from a lap down
to take the points lead."
On lap 151, Dillon brought out the fourth caution when he had a right-front
tire go down and then made contact with the wall. He fell six laps off of the
pace after making multiple pit stops to repair a damaged sway bar.
Piquet Jr. passed Joey Coulter for second on the penultimate lap. With less
than 10 laps to go, Piquet, who is a former Formula One competitor, made
contact with Brian Scott.
Angered by the incident, Scott, who drove the No. 18 Toyota for Kyle Busch's
team, bumped into Piquet's Chevrolet several times on pit road after the race
"I only dived into the inside a few times," Piquet said. "I'm happy, and I
think we did a good job. I improved myself, and I learned. Yeah, maybe I went
over the line a few times, but it's a part of learning. I need to learn what
the limits are in this NASCAR game. I'm not (ticked) at anybody, but I think
the 18 (Scott) was little bit angry. I don't know what's his deal."
Coulter took the third spot, followed by Crafton and Scott Riggs. Timothy
Peters, Ryan Blaney, Parker Kligerman and Scott completed the top-10.
Peters started on the pole and led the first 58 laps before Kevin Harvick,
another Sprint Cup regular, moved ahead of him to take the top spot. Harvick
led the most laps with 101 but suffered a flat left-rear tire late in the
race, dropping him to 12th in the finishing order. He won the spring truck
race here in March.
10/27 17:16:33 ET