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Trucks: Hamlin barges into Martinsville win

Denny Hamlin doesn't make many starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but this one was worth the effort after a hard race saw him end the afternoon in victory lane.
Cup regular Denny Hamlin has only made 15 starts in the Camping World Truck Series over the years, but on Saturday afternoon he claimed his second series race win with victory in the Kroger 200 event at Martinsville Speedway, a hard-fought race which ended with more than one lingering grudge.

Hamlin had started the race from the back of the grid as a result of missing the drivers' meeting while attending to his Cup duties, while Timothy Peters had started from pole position alongside Kevin Harvick, and duly led for the first 58 laps.

That included two of the seven caution periods of the afternoon: the first was on lap 19 for Todd Bodine in turn 2, and the second came on lap 29 shortly after the restart when Jeff Agnew spun in turn 1 and caught out David Starr in the process. In both cases the cars involved sustained little damage and were able to continue.

Peters' run at the front came to an end when Harvick finally decided to take charge of proceedings for the first time on lap 59, and the #2 would quickly prove itself to be the dominant car of the race as it went on to lead a total of 101 of the 200 laps in three blocks separated out by single lap interlopers during pit stops cycles under yellow flag conditions.

The first of these was for an accident involving Tim George Jr. in turn 4 on lap 93, but the next caution on lap 151 had more serious consequences for the Truck Series championship when points leader Ty Dillon blew a tyre in turn 2 and hit the wall. Dillon fell six laps off the lead while getting the car patched up, and as a result ended up finishing in 28th place - a major hit in the Truck title battle.

Harvick led the field to the green flag for the restart on lap 160, but he was no match for Matt Crafton at the restart, with Denny Hamlin following him through into second place ahead of Joey Coulter, Nelson Piquet Jr. and James Buescher, who had battled back after going a lap down in the early stages of the race.

Crafton retained the lead through three more caution periods: a turn 1 accident for Jason White and Clay Greenfield on lap 164; a spin by Peyton Sellers at the same spot on lap 175; and a final turn 1 incident, this time for Miguel Paludo, on lap 187 which set up a final restart of the day with seven laps remaining to the chequered flag.

That gave Hamlin his best shot of the race at taking the lead from Crafton, and he did it old style - by bulldozing him to one side, a move that Crafton did not take kindly to.

"Running in the back of somebody, that doesn't take anything. Anybody can do that," he complained after the race when he sought out Hamlin for an animated discussion on the incident. "I told him that it took a lot of man to run in the back of somebody," he said. "Not even try to pass me. Didn't even run behind me for one lap to see what he could do. Just ran in the back of me -- that's all he did."



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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #51 Toyota Toyota, races past the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #51 Toyota Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #51 Toyota Toyota, passes Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Zecol/Menards Toyota, for the leads during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, and Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, celebrates winning the series championship with a burnout after the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, celebrates winning the series championship with the trophy in Victory Lane during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Daniel Suarez, driver of the #51 ARRIS Toyota, and John H. Nemechek, driver of the #8 Chevrolet, lead a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning after winning the series championship after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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