NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: 2008 Kroger 250 at Martinsville

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In a Nutshell: Dennis Setzer took the checkered flag ahead of Matt Crafton to win the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway Saturday afternoon. Setzer held onto the lead during a green/white/checkered finish that ended under caution as Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson wrecked in turn 3. Rick Crawford, Ken Schrader and Erik Darnell rounded out the top-five finishers.

Who Should Have Won: Setzer. Setzer qualified 10th and had a great truck all day; the driver of the No. 18 Duck Head Footwear/Aquadock Dodge took the lead on lap 128 and led all 126 of the remaining laps to score the victory with ease.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Should Mike Skinner and Benson be upset with Kyle Busch?

Within five laps, Busch managed to take Bill Davis Racing teammates Skinner and Benson out of contention for a win and well out of the top five. On lap 249, Skinner ran out of gas, and Busch ran hard into the back of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra, sending him spinning and the yellow flying with just two laps remaining in the scheduled distance.

Then, on the white-flag lap of a GWC finish, Busch and Benson raced side-by-side for the second position. As the two raced into turn 3, Busch got into Benson, and both trucks went spinning. Crafton, who was running right behind Benson and Busch, saw what happened clearly.

“Kyle [Busch] drove in underneath that No. 23 [Johnny Benson] and wheel-hopped it and opened the door for me,” said Crafton. “I kind of shut my eyes and went through the middle. In Kyle’s defense, he wheel-hopped and got sideways, and that’s why he wrecked the No. 23.”

Skinner went on to finish 29th; Benson and Busch went on to finish 25th and 26th, respectively.

Busch did look like the bad guy on the track, but there’s really no way the driver of the No. 51 could have avoided hitting Skinner or Benson. Avoiding a truck that ran out of fuel just inches ahead of you is virtually impossible, more so on the half-mile Martinsville Speedway where space is at a premium to begin with.

In the incident with Benson, it was really hard to tell the No. 51 wheel-hopped and lost control. If anyone should be upset with Busch, Benson is the one; however, that’s not going to do him much good at this point. For if Busch really did lose control of the truck, there’s not a whole lot he could do; although a third-place finish would have been much better than the 26th-place one he ended up with.

2. How did Chrissy Wallace fare in her Craftsman Truck Series debut?

Wallace made her debut for Germain Racing Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. After qualifying 35th, Wallace had a long way to go to get to the front, and it showed. Early in the race, the 19-year-old found herself a lap down after being passed by then leader Ron Hornaday Jr.

But Wallace found her way back onto the lead lap, and wound up as high as 11th before a black flag for a loose fender sent her tumbling through the field to 28th. In the closing laps, Wallace took her No. 03 GEICO/Mobil Delvac Oils Toyota back through the field once again, coming home with a respectable finishing position of 18th.

Wallace’s father Mike Wallace coached her all race long as her spotter, and Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart also coached Chrissy from the pits.

“It was definitely crazy,” Wallace said. “I think we had about four wrecks in the last 50 laps. Luckily, we avoided all of them and came home 18th. They [Mike Wallace and Tony Stewart] were both on the radio coaching me. It was pretty good.”

Overall, the driver of the No. 03 ran a decent race. She tapped Scott Lagasse Jr. late to bring out the 13th caution, but stayed out of trouble otherwise – managing to get some valuable track time instead. It’s still early, but it seems Chrissy Wallace has a promising Truck Series career in her future.

Truck Rookie Report
2008 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Colin Braun (No. 6)
Andy Lally (No. 7)
Donny Lia (No. 71)
Justin Marks (No. 9)
Marc Mitchell (No. 15)
Phillip McGilton (No. 22)
Brian Scott (No. 16)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 6
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1, Lia finished ninth

Rookie of the Race: Lia

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Setzer’s win is the first for Bobby Hamilton Racing since the team partnered with Arrington Manufacturing and moved to Virginia during the offseason. The victory was also the first for Dodge since May, 2005 when Bobby Hamilton won at Mansfield Motorsports Park.

The yellow flag flew 16 times over the Kroger 250, tying the record for most cautions at Martinsville Speedway. Also, the race was red-flagged twice; once on lap 144 and once on lap 239.

Busch remains the series points leader by 35 points over Bodine, who remains in second. Hornaday Jr. finds himself 65 points out of the lead in third, and Setzer moved up five spots to fourth, just two points behind Hornaday. Crawford sits two points behind Setzer and moved up one spot to round out the top five.

Crafton jumped eight positions to sixth, and finds himself 106 points back from Busch. David Starr is just five points behind Crafton, and Darnell, who moved up five spots to eighth, is 118 out of the lead. Benson and Terry Cook round out the top 10 four races into the season.

Quotable

“I ran second to Bobby Hamilton the year he won the championship [2004]. We raced really hard against each other, but off the track, we were the best of friends. I don’t think we ever had a harsh word for one another. I respected him a lot.” – Dennis Setzer, race winner

“This win right here is for Bobby Hamilton only – he is the man!” – Marcus Richmond, crew chief for Dennis Setzer

“It’s just exciting. It’s exciting for the fans. Walk up there and ask them. They saw heroes become heroes in Dennis Setzer. They saw outlaws become outlaws as in the No. 23 [Johnny Benson] and the No. 51 [Kyle Busch]. And they saw guys driving their hearts out all day long putting on a show for the fans.” – Rick Crawford, finished third

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series takes four weeks off before heading to Kansas Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 on April 26th. Darnell scored his first career Truck Series victory in that one last year, after finishing more than 10 seconds ahead of Crawford. Bill Lester set the qualifying record at the speedway with a speed of 173.833 mph (31.100 seconds) on July 1, 2005. Coverage of the race begins at 5:30 p.m. ET that Saturday on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, How and Why things went down the way they did at Martinsville? You’d know if you subscribed to the Frontstretch newsletter and Amy Henderson’s Big Six column, a quick way to get you up to speed on any of the action you missed the day before. Still haven’t signed up for the newsletter? Click here to get it sent to your inbox ASAP; and remember, the best thing about it is it’s FREE!

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