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Trucks: Hamlin claims first series victory

Denny Hamlin flew to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway, using fresher tyres to hold off Ron Hornaday and Austin Dillon.
Denny Hamlin claimed his first victory in 12 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 on Saturday afternoon, using fresher tyres to hold off Ron Hornaday to the chequered flag by 1.2s on the half-mile paperclip oval.

"The Truck Series is more competitive now than what it's ever been, and it means a lot to myself to win a Truck Series race, especially running just one a year," said Hamlin in victory lane. "It's a big deal for me, more than what people probably think."

Hamlin's victory means that he is one of 23 drivers to have won a race in each of NASCAR's top three series. He's the seventh Truck Series driver to have his maiden win at Martinsville - more than any other track - and coincidentally also delivered the first win at the circuit for Kyle Busch Motorsports when he crossed the finish line in the #18.

Earlier, Matt Crafton had claimed pole position and Hornaday joined him on the front row for the start of the race, after NASCAR managed to squeeze the qualifying session into a rain-affected Saturday schedule. Hamlin and Johnny Sauter had lined up on the second row of the grid.

Crafton then led the first 11 laps of the race, and then the remainder of the first two thirds of the 200 lap race were dominated by long stints in the lead by Sauter (34 laps), Hornaday (29 laps) and Hamlin (53 laps), which saw five of the race's nine caution - an accident put Ricky Carmichael out of the race on lap 39, Cole Whitt and Nelson Piquet Jr. had separate spins on lap 50, Matt Lofton had a spin on lap 87, and Justin Lofton and Max Gresham on lap 105 before a debris caution lap 115.

After a sixth caution for an accident on the backstretch on lap 132 between Germain Racing teammates Todd Bodine and Max Papis, Austin Dillon took the lead for the next 43 laps save for a single lap when Hornaday nipped in front at a restart on lap 178 following a spin for Ryan Sieg in turn 2.

Denny Hamlin had been running behind Dillon and Hornaday on fresher tyres than the leader after pitting on lap 134, and he got another chance to make a run on them after an accident in turn 4 for Johanna Long and Tyler Tanner: Dillon got loose at the green flag and drifted up into Hornaday, giving Hamlin the chance he needed to take to the front and then pull away for the win.

"Just couldn't make the first turn and ran into Ron," said Dillon, admitting that he'd handed the victory to Hamlin in the process. "If I could have made it through the first turn, it would have been me [or] Ron in Victory Lane, I'm pretty sure."

Hornaday didn't blame Dillon - in fact, he'd been expecting the Richard Childress Racing driver to slide up. "The lap before the [penultimate] restart, I cleaned my tires off pretty good, and I still shoved my nose pretty good," he said. "When I saw Austin not weaving his truck as much as I did on the [previous] restart, I knew he was coming up into me.




Related Pictures

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Driving his first race for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Denny Hamlin leads Kevin Harvick during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Denny Hamlin celebrates in Martinsville Speedway Victory Lane after becoming the 23rd driver to win a race in all three national series following his first-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 on Saturday. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images]
Keystone Light Pole Award winner Matt Crafton (right) and Ron Hornaday Jr. lead the field to the American Ethanol Green Flag at the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images]
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose for a photo prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

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