Denny Hamlin wins Martinsville Truck race with late pass

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #51 Toyota Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #51 Toyota Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on October 27, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va.—To Denny Hamlin, it was standard operating procedure at Martinsville Speedway.

To Matt Crafton, it was an unjustified bulldozer move.

Regardless of the point of view, Hamlin won Saturday’s Kroger 200 with an aggressive pass after a restart with eight laps left and showed no regret in claiming his second victory at the .526-mile short track and his second win in 15 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts.

Hamlin, who started from the rear because he missed the drivers’ meeting —- thanks to a conflict with Sprint Cup practice — finished 1.932 seconds ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr., who bulled his way into the runner-up position after restarting fourth on Lap 193 of 200. Joey Coulter ran third, followed by Crafton and Scott Riggs.

Irate at Hamlin’s use of the front bumper, Crafton had some choice words for the driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota after the race. With Hamlin parked on pit road, Crafton leaned into the driver’s-side window to express his displeasure.

Hamlin’s reaction was “What did he expect?”

“When you’re the leader with a few laps to go, you’ve got to expect it,” said Hamlin, who moved Crafton out of the way and took the lead for the first time with six laps left. “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.”

Crafton disagreed and took umbrage at the characterization of Hamlin’s winning move as a pass.

“If you want to call that a pass—that’s just moving somebody,” Crafton said. “Running in the back of somebody, that doesn’t take anything. Anybody can do that. I didn’t let the tires come up quite clean enough on the last restart. I do admit that. That’s part of it. I didn’t get my tires cleaned up, but I did not run into the back of him.”

Ty Dillon’s one-point championship lead evaporated after his No. 3 Chevrolet blew a tire and nosed into the outside wall on Lap 151 to cause the fourth caution of the afternoon. After repeated trips to pit road for repairs, Dillon dropped to 28th, six laps down and could not improve on that position.

Dillon’s woes transferred the series lead to James Buescher, who rallied from a lap down to finish sixth. Buescher grabbed a 21-point lead over second-place Dillon with three races left in the season.

Even though he lost a lap in the early going and didn’t get it back until he received a free pass under the third caution midway through the race, Buescher was confident he could get back into contention.

“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,” Buescher said. “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.” We did that. (Crew chief) Michael Shelton made good calls on what to do to get the truck better, and it was able to go forward the rest of the day.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – KROGER 200

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, October 27, 2012

1. (5) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 200, $32000.
2. (4) Nelson Piquet Jr., Chevrolet, 200, $26840.
3. (15) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, 200, $16485.
4. (7) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 200, $13400.
5. (23) Scott Riggs(i), Chevrolet, 200, $9650.
6. (10) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 200, $10450.
7. (1) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 200, $12600.
8. (11) Ryan Blaney, RAM, 200, $10250.
9. (13) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 200, $10200.
10. (3) Brian Scott(i), Toyota, 200, $9175.
11. (21) Max Gresham #, Chevrolet, 200, $8850.
12. (2) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 200, $7725.
13. (27) Jason White, Ford, 200, $9925.
14. (8) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 200, $10875.
15. (20) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 200, $10850.
16. (19) David Starr, Toyota, 200, $9700.
17. (24) Josh Richards(i), Ford, 200, $7400.
18. (26) John Wes Townley #, Toyota, 200, $9600.
19. (14) Justin Lofton, Chevrolet, 200, $9550.
20. (36) Peyton Sellers, Chevrolet, 199, $7875.
21. (9) Jeff Agnew, Chevrolet, 199, $9475.
22. (12) Todd Bodine, Toyota, 198, $9450.
23. (31) Ross Chastain #, Toyota, 198, $9425.
24. (29) Caleb Holman #, Chevrolet, 198, $7150.
25. (30) Clay Greenfield, RAM, 198, $7250.
26. (28) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 197, $9325.
27. (33) Tim George Jr., Chevrolet, 197, $9250.
28. (6) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 194, $7975.
29. (32) Bryan Silas #, Ford, 193, $7925.
30. (25) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 189, $7400.
31. (35) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 188, $6450.
32. (17) Ryan Truex(i), Chevrolet, Transmission, 158, $6425.
33. (16) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, Oil Pump, 136, $6400.
34. (18) Matt Merrell, Chevrolet, Transmission, 35, $6350.
35. (22) Cale Gale #, Chevrolet, Transmission, 7, $6325.
36. (34) Chris Fontaine, Chevrolet, Clutch, 5, $6292.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  69.579 mph.
Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 30 Mins, 43 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.932 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  7 for 40 laps.
Lead Changes:  7 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   T. Peters 1-58; K. Harvick(i) 59-94; J. Sauter 95; K. Harvick(i) 96-151; T. Peters 152; K. Harvick(i) 153-161; M. Crafton 162-194; D. Hamlin(i) 195-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick(i) 3 times for 101 laps; T. Peters 2 times for 59 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 33 laps; D. Hamlin(i) 1 time for 6 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: J. Buescher – 716; T. Dillon # – 695; T. Peters – 691; P. Kligerman – 680; J. Coulter – 670; M. Crafton – 664; N. Piquet Jr. – 626; J. Lofton – 618; J. Sauter – 573; M. Paludo – 568.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.