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On paper, it wasn’t much of a race. Kevin Harvick dominated, taking the point for good from Timothy Peters on lap 190 and never again relinquishing it, leading 187 laps to score his second consecutive Truck Series win. But after a tranquil first half, the final 50 miles of the Kroger 250 became an exercise in chaos. Marred by caution after caution, what began as an uneventful race ended with plenty of mangled sheetmetal, even for the Martinsville paperclip.
Harvick enjoyed more than just another win, but also a 1-2 finish for KHI, as last year’s defending champion Ron Hornaday finally shook off what had been an ugly start. It didn’t come without a price though; charging from 31st starting position, Hornaday traded paint with a number of drivers at the front before finally spinning out then second-place Johnny Sauter in turn 4 on lap 223. The resulting wreck also collected Mike Skinner, whom Hornaday made extensive contact with battling for position in the top five. Sauter attempted to confront Hornaday on pit road after the checkered flag flew.
Hornaday was hardly the only driver out there ruffling feathers. Austin Dillon ran in the top 10 for much of the day until bowling over Ricky Carmichael on lap 150, triggering a wreck that also ended Virginian Jason White‘s day early (he finished 29th.) Dillon the very next restart ended up nearly involved in another wreck with Brett Butler, leading to a number of pleas from his crew and spotter to exercise patience on the track. He finished 16th. Lance Fenton also had a rough day; running well off the pace for much of the afternoon, he was rear-ended entering turn 1 on lap 114, collecting Brian Johnson Jr.
The two foreign drivers in the show also posted excellent results. Max Papis, after spending an exhaustive morning in Cup practice running speeds constantly at the bottom of the charts, as well as in an extensive debriefing with crew chief Bootie Barker, traded paint with the best of them to finish eighth, his career best finish in the Truck Series. And India’s Narain Karthikeyan survived two spins, a stoppage on track and countless bumps to finish on the lead lap in 13th, a finish that had friends and family in his pit cheering harder than the winning crew in Harvick’s pit did.
Rounding out the top five were Brian Ickler, Peters and Johnny Benson. Hometown favorite Peters finished fourth after winning at Martinsville back in October, taking the Truck Series points lead back by 59 markers over Aric Almirola. Hornaday’s runner-up finish catapulted him to 12th in the standings.
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