Joey Logano has fulfilled his ambition of winning a race in every one of NASCAR's three national-level championships, after claiming his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. He is only the 26th driver to achieve the triple feat in NASCAR's history, and the 24-year-old Sprint Cup regular managed it in just his seventh start in the championship.
Full race results from Martinsville.
Logano had led the field to the green flag after having also picked up his first-ever Truck Series pole earlier in the day with a lap of 19.504s (97.088mph) at the 0.526-mile short oval, which put him 0.094s ahead of Haas Racing Development's Cole Custer who shared the front row of the grid for the green flag.
The Brad Keselowski Racing driver was then able to quickly cruise away in the lead for the first 36 laps until the first caution of the day caused by Logano's team mate Tyler Reddick spinning in turn 1 following contact with Kyle Busch Motorsport's Daniel Suarez. After the restart Logano was quick to seize the initiative back from Mason Mingus in the Billy Boat Motorsports #15 who had stayed off pit road; Logano duly led again for a further 15 laps until Mingus himself was the cause of the second caution of the day when his worn tyres saw him spin out in turn 2.
Logano led defending series champion Matt Crafton to the green for the restart on lap 70, with Erik Jones in third ahead of Brandon Jones, Johnny Sauter and Daniel Suarez. As the green flag stint wore on Logano started to report handling issues with the #29 it was Crafton's #88 that came on strong, the ThorSport Racing truck duly moving into the lead on lap 110.
The yellows finally made a return appearance on lap 141 when Brandon Jones spun out in turn 2. Getting the race back underway proved problematic, with a rapid sequence of follow-on caution on lap 156 (contact sending Mason Mingus and Jake Griffin spinning out in turn 2), lap 162 (Caleb Holman spinning out after contact with Timothy Peters in turn 3), lap 174 (John Hunter Nemechek coming to a halt at pit entry) and lap 185 (Ray Black Jr going around in turn 2.)
When the race went green again on lap 194 there was a three-wide battle for the lead between Crafton, Logano and Erik Jones. A tap on Crafton's bumper allowed Logano to shoot into the lead and checked the #88's momentum enough to allow Jones to pick up second place before the flags were out for the eighth caution on lap 214 after Tommy Regan got turned around in the final corner. Logano took off at the restart, which meanwhile allowed Crafton to retake second place from Jones and then set his sights on eating into Logano's lead.
Crafton was finally in a position to press Logano for the top spot on lap 241, and the pair made contact as Logano sought to block Crafton's attempts to pass. Their battle enabled Cole Custer - who had already fought back from two pit lane speeding penalties - to pass them both with five laps remaining, but a rearguard action from Crafton ended up with the #00 spinning in turn 4 and forced the race to end under green-white-chequered flag conditions.
Crafton led at the restart, but by the time the white flag came out it was Logano who had pulled off an inside pass for the lead to seize the clear advantage which he duly retained for the final lap to clinch his first-ever win in the Truck Series. Crafton crossed the line in second ahead of Jones, followed by Crafton's ThorSport Racing team mate Johnny Sauter, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez in sixth place.
"I just had a good restart, the tyres hooked up well. I had a good jump and then I just drove it in there and hoped for the best," said Logano, who led for 150 of the 258-lap race.
"It took a few laps to get going [but] I had the lead early and there towards the end the #4 and the #29 got by me," said Crafton, who had himself held the lead for 100 laps during the race. "I was just not that good on the short run, but it would keep coming to me and coming to me."
"I felt like I had a decent restart, but he came like he was shot out of a cannon," said Crafton. "I could have come down and tried to block him, but that would have probably wrecked me too."
Crafton indicated that he hadn't been happy or impressed by Logano and Custer's tough driving in the closing laps: "I never touched the #29 earlier whenever I passed him and then he just kept putting the bumper to me and I was like, 'Well, it's the race for the lead here' and I wasn't going to move him. We got in there side-by-side and I got a little bit loose in there and the #00 came in there and just pounded us. It's racing I guess."
Third-placed man Jones was more relaxed about how physical things had got at the end: "[Logano] had to do what he had to do to win," he said. "I wish I could have raced the #88 for it, I was looking forward to having a shot at it.
"Thankfully it worked out and we were able to drop in third," Jones commented. "The tyres are just killed on this thing and we got too loose the last run. Good day overall for us in our Toyota Tundra and just hopefully we can go on to Kansas and pick up a win for this season. Feel pretty good about it."
In the Truck Series standings, Crafton moves up to assume the lead in the championship by two points from Tyler Reddick. Erik Jones is a further two points back, followed by Johnny Sauter, James Buescher and John Wes Townley.
"I just started out really, really tight at the beginning of a run and like lap 15 of a run it's like somebody flipped a switch and it was so loose I couldn't drive it," recalled Sauter of his run to fourth place at Martinsville. "Clearly we had a balance problem, I don't know what it is. Nonetheless, we finished fourth and we survived. When you're not the fastest truck here, you have to kind of change your approach and try to survive and that's all we did today."
As for this week's race winner, Logano's attention now turns to Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race which will once again see him start from pole position: will today's Truck Series race outcome prove an accurate portent for the STP 500 as well?
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.
Get the latest NASCAR news straight to your Twitter feed! CLICK HERE to follow Crash.net's new dedicated NASCAR Twitter feed