28 October 2012
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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