In a Nutshell: Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag under caution ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to win the Kroger 250 Monday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Harvick took the lead inside ten laps to go and held on through a green-white-checkered finish to score his first Truck Series win outside of Phoenix International Raceway. Mike Skinner, Johnny Benson, and Rick Crawford rounded out the Top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch. Busch started his No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota in 13th and managed to power his way to the front pretty quickly, even pulling to a nearly one and a half second lead at some points. But with ten laps remaining, Kevin Harvick caught Busch and bumped him just enough to move him up the track and out of the lead. After leading 139 of the 250 laps run, Busch was relegated to a 17th place finish after a penalty shortly thereafter placed him at the back of the lead lap.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:
1. What was Johnny Sauter thinking?
Early in the running of the Kroger 250, Johnny Sauter lost 11 laps after bringing out a caution on lap 13 for an oil leak. On lap 35, Sauter found himself inside the leaders and in the way for the second restart of the race. But rather than getting out of the way and letting the leaders race, the driver of the No. 13 Fun Sand Chevrolet drove like he was fighting for position.
What in the world was he thinking? There is no reason for a truck that is 10 or more laps down to race the leaders like they’re racing for position. There were multiple incidents where Sauter should have moved his truck out of the way of the leaders and let them race. He ended up nearly wrecking then leader Rick Crawford trying to pass him to get one of his 11 laps back.
There is definitely honor in earning laps back “the old fashioned way,” but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the leaders when you’re that far behind.
2. Did NASCAR make the right decision in penalizing Kyle Busch?
With just eight laps remaining, Hermie Sadler bounced his truck off the curb in the turn and went spinning, bringing out the 13th caution of the race. Prior to that caution, contact with Kevin Harvick buckled in the back bumper of Kyle Busch’s No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota. In an effort to pull the sheet metal away from the tire without making a trip down pit road, Busch drove his truck along the inside wall.
Unfortunately for him, he crossed the pit road commitment line before he pulled away from that wall, and NASCAR nailed the driver of the No. 51 with a commitment line violation. Though he expressed his displeasure with the ruling on his radio, Busch restarted deep in the field.
Like it or not, the pit road commitment line is there for a reason, and Kyle Busch clearly violated that line. He could have used the frontstretch wall to work that sheet metal away from the tire… but chose not to. NASCAR definitely made the right decision in this case.
Truck Rookie Report
2009 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Chase Austin (No. 32)
James Buescher (No. 10)
Ricky Carmichael (No. 4)
J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 7)
Taylor Malsam (No. 81)
Johnny Sauter (No. 13)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie Of The Race: James Buescher, finished 11th.
“Not a bad day at all. We were like 15th on that last restart, the green-white-checkered and got all the way up to 11th, so that’s pretty good. I guess the key here is to stay out of trouble. You wouldn’t know that we stayed out of trouble by looking at this thing, though. It’s pretty tore up.” James Buescher
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:
Only three Camping World Truck Series races have been run on Monday, and ironically all three have happened at Martinsville. Most recently, the Truck Series race became a Monday morning special in 2000; before that, it was 1995.
After a challenging finish, Kyle Busch remains the points leader by 38 over Todd Bodine. Ron Hornaday, Jr.‘s second place finish moved him up one spot to third. Despite finishing third Monday afternoon, Mike Skinner dropped one spot to fourth, and Matt Crafton moved up one spot to round out the Top 5.
Just 33 points behind Crafton, Terry Cook is up one spot to sixth. Johnny Benson finds himself 13 points behind Cook in seventh. Chad McCumbee dropped three spots to eighth, 177 points out of first. Timothy Peters and Rick Crawford, up seven positions, round out the Top 10.
“The first thing I want to do is thank Kroger and Bounty. They put this deal together on Monday. That was fun. Got to push and shove there a little bit. Still a great day to be in Victory Lane so close to home. The other thing I want to do is thank the fans coming here on a Monday. What a crowd for a Monday afternoon in Martinsville.” Kevin Harvick
“This truck is the one I wrecked at Phoenix. We had a pretty good truck, and I used it up a little bit getting back up there. Second, darnit. I was too worried about Skinner on the restart and held it up a little bit.” Ron Hornaday, Jr.
The Craftsman Truck Series takes nearly a month off before heading to Kansas Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 on April 25th. In 2008, Ron Hornaday, Jr. led 136 of the 167 laps run on the way to his first of six wins. Coverage begins at 5:30 PM ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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