In A Nutshell: David Starr got to the front on lap 130 and never looked back, leading the final 121 laps at Martinsville to claim his fourth career Craftsman Truck Series victory in Saturday’s Kroger 250. Meanwhile, Bobby Hamilton, Jr. did his daddy proud in his first start filling in for his father. He had the Fastenal Dodge on the pole and led the first 18 laps of the race, finally finishing 10th. The race set a record for caution flags with 16 for the event. In spite of that, for the first time this season, the race ran to its scheduled distance and was not extended by a green/white/checkered finish.
Who Should Have Won: David Starr. Simply put, Starr was the class of the field for the last half of the race despite racing on older tires than most of the field. One could make a case for Clint Bowyer, and Bowyer certainly had a strong truck, leading 84 laps starting on lap 19. Unfortunately, a spin on lap 121 mired him deep in the pack, and he spent the rest of the race getting back up to the seventh position. Even if Bowyer was able to fight back to second, Starr still clearly had the field covered at the finish of the race.
Worth Noting / Points Shuffle: Ted Musgrave finished second and recorded his fourth Top 5 finish of the season. Musgrave and Mark Martin have both scored Top 5 finishes in all four of the Truck races this season.
David Starr’s victory moved him up eight positions in the driver standings to fifth in the points. Joey Miller and Chad McCumbee were both able to improve their points positions by six spots this weekend. Rookie Bobby East was the big winner this week, vaulting up nine positions to 31st in the points with a solid 13th place finish.
Meanwhile, Jon Wood took a big hit in points this weekend, as he did not race and fell eight spots to 17th. Johnny Benson’s late troubles gave him a 30th place finish at Martinsville, and hurt his point standings by six spots, down to 11th in points. Timothy Peters was involved in an accident and finished 35th. The result dropped him five spots to 24th in the points.
Three Questions to Ponder after This Weekend’s Race:
1) Is there any better racing on the planet than in the Truck Series?
This weekend’s race was the closest thing to a snoozer in terms of number of leaders that you will ever see on a short track with only four drivers taking turns at the front of the pack. That said, there was still action all over the track. 16 cautions kept the field bunched up with lapped cars mixed in with the leaders all day.
2) Will Jack Sprague ever win at Martinsville?
One of the legendary veterans of the Truck Series, Sprague has finished third at Martinsville four times, but still has never won in 12 career starts here. Sprague was headed for the win last year when a pit road accident caused him a broken oil line that ended his day. Jack finished 17th this weekend and once again failed to bring home a grandfather clock.
3) Can Mark Martin ever really get out of this truck with the series points lead?
Martin’s fourth place finish allowed him to retain the points lead. He is now 55 points ahead of Ted Musgrave, and is the only driver to finish in the Top 5 for all four races this season. He continues to boast that the Trucks are the best series going and that his Truck Series team is second to none…so, is he really going to relinquish a ride in a first place vehicle?
Quotable: "I am just excited to be here with Red Horse Racing. I don’t want this night to end. I told crew chief Jamie Jones when he told me we were going to go all the way to the end, I said "˜I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make those decisions.’ But it paid off, and we’re here in Victory Lane. I am just so excited I feel like I might cry." David Starr
"If someone said we would start off the year with a new team and four straight Top 5 runs, no one would have believed it "" including me. But everything has gone right for us to start this season. The communication between myself and Tom and Todd and his team has been so good…this is a perfect way to start a season." Ted Musgrave
"There’s no one I trust more out there than Mark Martin. I knew he was wanting to get by, but I also knew he wasn’t going to do anything to take me out. I knew if I kept my truck on the bottom, he would give me the bumper but not take me out. It’s a great run for my guys, and we’ll take this truck to Gateway and see if we can back up this run there." Matt Crafton
Truck Jumpers: The crossover to Trucks on a companion weekend was still not very extensive. There were only three Cup regulars in the field this weekend: Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, and David Stremme.
Best news of the Weekend: Bobby Hamilton has undergone two chemotherapy treatments for neck cancer and is doing fine. He is also working at his team’s shop on a daily basis. All of us who follow the series are wishing him a speedy recovery.
Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series now has an incredible FOUR weeks off. Nope, folks, that’s not a mistake…their next race is now April 29th, The Dodge Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. The race can be seen on SPEED at 8:00 PM and heard on MRN radio.
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