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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]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, leads Kevin Harvick, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Dillon is 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, July 31, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Stewart is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and his wife Samantha celebrate by kissing the bricks as their son Brexton looks on after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Earnhardt, Jr. is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, pulls out of the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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