MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Denny Hamlin muscled his way to victory Saturday during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway while James Buescher took over the series championship lead.
Hamlin spent most of the race working his way to the front after starting at the rear of the field after missing the drivers meeting. He finally got himself in position to grab the lead after taking second just before the final caution flag of the day with 14 laps left.
Matt Crafton led Hamlin during the restart with seven laps left, but he didn’t stay ahead of Hamlin for long. Entering turn three Hamlin muscled his way under Crafton, with the two racing side-by-side down the front stretch.
Hamlin managed to clear Crafton exiting turn two with six to go and quickly began to pull away. Crafton fell into a battle for second with Joey Coulter and Nelson Piquet, Jr. before nearly spinning with five laps left and falling out of contention.
Once out front, Hamlin never faltered and cruised to his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory, both of which have come at Martinsville.
“I love this place. It is short-track racing at its finest,” Hamlin said in victory lane. “I’ve got to thank everyone who is part of this program. I don’t get to run these races that often so I’ve got to take advantage of it when I do.”
Piquet ended up finishing second, followed by Coulter, Crafton and Scott Riggs.
In the battle for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, Buescher suddenly has a commanding lead in the standings with only three races left in the season thanks to some bad luck from Ty Dillon.
Dillon was running in the top 10 with 50 laps left when he blew a tire in the No. 3 Chevrolet, putting him several laps down to the leaders. Buescher, on the other hand, crossed the finish line in sixth and now has a 21-point lead over Dillon. Timothy Peters is third, 25 points back.