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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]
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS celebrates his 4th victory of the season with Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motor Sports, and his girlfriend, Amy Reimann, after winning Sunday, October 26, 2014 the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This is the 10th anniversary of a Hendrick Motorsports plane crash which killed 10 in Martinsville. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS races to a second place finish and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS finished in third place Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the  Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Both Gordon and Newman are in the The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 4th win of the season with his crew Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase, which Earnhardt, Jr. is not a contender, continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, races to his 4th win of the season with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finishing second Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. Gordon now leads the standings in the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 4th win of the season Sunday, October 26, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. This was also Earnhardt, Jr.`s first career win at Martinsville. The Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase, which Earnhardt, Jr. is not a contender, continues next week at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, applies the winners decal in Victory Lane after his victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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