March 30, 2014
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
MARTINSVILLE, Va.— In fading sunlight, in the second race of a Sunday doubleheader at Martinsville Speedway, Matt Crafton beat polesitter Darrell Wallace Jr. to the finish line to win the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event under yellow because of a last-lap accident.
The reigning series champion sealed the victory on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish in a race that went six laps past its scheduled distance of 256 laps at the .526-mile short track.
The win was Crafton’s first of the season, his first at Martinsville and his fourth in 318 career starts. To secure it, Crafton had to survive a series of late restarts that tested both his talent and his patience.
Rookie Ben Kennedy ran third in a race that produced a record 17 lead changes. Johnny Sauter was fourth, followed by Ryan Blaney.
The Kroger 250, postponed from Saturday because of rain, was run after the conclusion of Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota started out sluggish but benefited from successful adjustments throughout the race.
“At the beginning of the day, we were terrible,” said Crafton, who led 47 laps. “I’m not going to lie. We were terrible. We were really, really tight from the center (of the corner) off. I didn’t think we were going to get it right there on those first two runs, but that’s just the way these guys never give up.
“We made track bar adjustment, another track bar adjustment, air pressure adjustment and finally we got that thing going.”
Crafton grabbed the lead from Peters on Lap 208 and held the top spot until a caution for debris on the frontstretch slowed the field on Lap 225.
The lead-lap trucks already had visited pit road under caution on Lap 193 for the final stops, and all the contenders stayed out on the track under the Lap 225 yellow and took the green for a restart on Lap 232, with Crafton leading the field to the stripe.
Moments later, former series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., who had led 62 laps, slammed the wall between Turns 3 and 4 after contact from the Toyota of German Quiroga.
Crafton retained the lead after the subsequent restart, and after Peters and Wallace settled second place, with Peters prevailing on Lap 239, the No. 17 Toyota began chasing the No. 88 Tundra of the race leader.
Gray Gaulding’s spin off Turn 2 on Lap 243, however, caused the eighth caution and set up the overtime finish. Erik Jones spun on the backstretch after contact from Sauter to foil the first attempt at a green-white-checkered.