NASCAR » 28 October 2012
Trucks: Hamlin barges into Martinsville win
Crafton was willing to concede that he'd made a tactical mistake which had left him vulnerable to Hamlin's move, however. "I didn't let the tyres come up quite clean enough on the last restart, I do admit that. That's part of it. I didn't get my tyres cleaned up, but I did not run into the back of him."
Hamlin brushed off criticism of the move that had given him the lead and which ultimately delivered the race win just a few minutes later.
"When you're the leader with a few laps to go, you've got to expect it," he said. "You can't wreck the guy, that's off-limits: but moving him off and out of the groove, that's standard protocol at this type of race track."
Hamlin wasn't the only driver to attack the ire of some of his peers, with Nelson Piquet Jr.'s creative approach to overtaking during the race also attracting criticism - while proving almost as successful in terms of race performance, as he pushed through to finish in second place two seconds back from Hamlin.
"Maybe this race I was a bit too aggressive," said Piquet afterwards, admitting that ovals were still a largely undiscovered country for him and the cramped half-mile tracks like Martinsville a particularly new skillset he was still working on fully acquiring.
Joey Coulter managed to get ahead of Matt Crafton before the finish line, with Scott Riggs coming home in fifth. In terms of the Truck Series championship, the crucial result was James Buescher claiming sixth place ahead of Timothy Peters: combined with Ty Dillon's earlier tyre blow-out, that resets the title battle in a major fashion.
Buescher takes over at the top of the championship and now leads Dillon by 21pts, while Peters closes to within 4pts of Dillon with just three races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami remaining in the 2012 season.
"The second half of practice we got better, and the second half of the race, we turned it around, too," said Buescher, who had needed the lucky dog in the mid-race third caution of the afternoon to get back onto the lead lap.
"When we were a lap down, I did have all the faith in the world that we could turn it around and come back for a top-10 finish," he insisted. "I knew that we just needed some adjustments. We hadn't stopped yet. We were still on the initial run, and I knew that we could get the back end in the track better.
"We were really loose and just needed to come to pit road for an adjustment and hit reset," he added, giving the credit to his crew chief Michael Shelton and the rest of the #31 personnel for all their work getting the truck back into shape when it was needed. "This team knows never to give up. We came from two laps down to win a race this year, and came from a lap down to take the points lead."
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