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A plethora of on-track crashes. Double-file restarts time and time again. None of it could keep Kyle Busch from winning as his No. 18 Toyota broke through to take the checkered flag first at the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Saturday afternoon. The race is Busch’s first-ever NASCAR win at Martinsville Speedway in any of the sport’s top three series as a driver.
“I’ve gotten a couple [Martinsville Clocks] as an owner,” Busch said. “Just a great day. When we were out front, that was [crucial] to be out in front of those wrecks.”
John Hunter Nemechek, for the fourth time in his Camping World Truck Series career came home second in a bravado performance for his family-owned No. 8 truck. Nemechek, searching for his second straight victory tried everything but he could not get by Busch in the closing stages.
The final results left Nemechek as the point leader by three over Parker Kligerman. However, despite the strong effort showcased on track this season, Nemechek is still on the lookout for sponsors in the coming weeks.
“We’re going to work hard in this off time,” Nemechek said after his second straight runner-up result at Martinsville. “I know that we have some deals that could get done but it’s just trying to get everything in order to get their name on the hood.”
Completing the top-5 finishers Saturday were William Byron – grabbing his career-best effort in third – followed by Kyle Larson and Timothy Peters. Spencer Gallagher, Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley and Rico Abreu rounded out the top 10.
Larson, who led 79 laps, lost the top spot through pit strategy and never got it back. Falling back through the field after his caution-flag stop, that left Cameron Hayley at the point from laps 152 through 162 before Busch blew by and took control the rest of the way.
With 11 cautions throughout the 255-lap event, the Caution Clock was never put into effect as the race even had two red-flag periods halt the field following hard multi-truck accidents.
The first involved a potential title contender. Cole Custer came into the weekend as a favorite to grab win No. 3 as the 18-year-old was the one to beat in both Martinsville races last year. However, the No. 00 driver spun hard into the backstretch wall on lap 237, resulting in the race’s first red flag.
On the ensuing restart, Justin Haley got turned into the pack as they raced into Turn 3 on lap 246. The crash also swallowed up Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez, forcing a green-white-checkered restart where Busch had to hold off Nemechek to take home the trophy.
In Sauter’s case, he was the first domino to fall for GMS Racing as three of their four drivers ran into issues. Following a cut tire by Sauter, first-timer Grala suffered a “right-front bead failure” in Turn 4 on lap 93, ending the 17-year-old’s day before the halfway point.
“We had great speed and were just picking them off one by one,” Grala said. “I wish I had gotten to run more laps. It was a great experience out there. It was really good learning for me: I made my first pit stop, I made my first pass in the Trucks. I’m still walking away with a smile.”
Another driver walking away happy – sort of – was Kligerman as the No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing driver overcame a lap 165 spin to finish eighth. The result is the third consecutive top-10 finish for the RBR team, ranking them second in the championship behind Nemechek.
“I had a monster run on the [No.] 11, I caught him a ton,” Kligerman said. “The lapper got in the way there and I just shot to the bottom and I didn’t tap my brakes. I apologize to Ben [Kennedy] — that was uncalled for. Middle of the race … just dumb.”
The trio of females attempting to make Saturday’s event were never truly a factor. Sisters Claire and Paige Decker qualified on time, finishing 27th and 25th, respectably while cousin Natalie failed to make the field.
“I was happy with it,” Claire said. “I got a lot of time out there, I had never done live pit stops. I got to do that.”
“Race went awesome,” Napier said, finishing up a one-race deal with small-time MAKE Motorsports. “I hope to be back soon.”
ALPHA ENERGY 250 FINAL RESULTS
|Fin||#||Driver||Sponsor / Owner||Truck||Laps||Status||Led||Pts|
|1||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota (Kyle Busch)||Toyota||255||running||123||0|
|2||8||John Hunter Nemechek||NEMCO Motorsports (Joe Nemechek)||Chevrolet||255||running||0||31|
|3||9||William Byron||Liberty University (Kyle Busch)||Toyota||255||running||0||30|
|4||24||Kyle Larson||McDonald’s (Maury Gallagher)||Chevrolet||255||running||79||0|
|5||17||Timothy Peters||Red Horse Racing (Tom DeLoach)||Toyota||255||running||0||28|
|6||23||Spencer Gallagher||Alamo Rent-A-Car (Maury Gallagher)||Chevrolet||255||running||0||27|
|7||88||Matt Crafton||Ideal Door / Menards (Duke Thorson)||Toyota||255||running||0||26|
|8||92||Parker Kligerman||BTS Tire/Solid Rock Carriers/Advance Auto Pts (Ricky Benton)||Ford||255||running||0||25|
|9||13||Cameron Hayley||Cabinets by Hayley (Duke Thorson)||Toyota||255||running||11||25|
|10||98||Rico Abreu||Safelite Auto Glass / Curb Records (Mike Curb)||Toyota||255||running||0||23|
|11||11||Ben Kennedy||Jacob Companies (Tom DeLoach)||Toyota||255||running||0||22|
|12||81||Ryan Truex||Toyota Osaka Parts Distribution (Shigeaki Hattori)||Toyota||255||running||0||21|
|13||02||Tyler Young||Randco / Young’s Building Systems (Randy Young)||Chevrolet||255||running||0||20|
|14||86||Brandon Brown||Coastal Carolina University (Jerry Brown)||Chevrolet||255||running||0||19|
|15||44||Austin Wayne Self||AM Technical Solutions (Tim Self)||Toyota||255||running||0||18|
|16||41||Ben Rhodes||Alpha Energy Solutions (Duke Thorson)||Toyota||255||running||42||18|
|17||07||Shane Lee||LeeBoy (Kevin Cywinski)||Toyota||255||running||0||16|
|18||51||Daniel Suarez||Arris (Kyle Busch)||Toyota||255||running||0||0|
|19||4||Christopher Bell||JBL.com (Kyle Busch)||Toyota||255||running||0||14|
|20||29||Tyler Reddick||Cooper Standard (Brad Keselowski)||Ford||255||running||0||13|
|21||05||John Wes Townley||Zaxby’s (Tony Townley)||Chevrolet||255||running||0||12|
|22||19||Daniel Hemric||California Clean Power (Brad Keselowski)||Ford||253||running||0||11|
|23||1||Bryce Napier||Lilly Trucking (Rick Ware)||Chevrolet||249||running||0||10|
|24||49||Timmy Hill||Testoril (Jay Robinson)||Chevrolet||248||running||0||9|
|25||74||Paige Decker||Best Western (Mike Harmon)||RAM||246||running||0||8|
|26||32||Justin Haley||Braun Motorsports (Todd Braun)||Toyota||244||crash||0||7|
|27||10||Claire Decker||AmsOil (Jennifer Jo Cobb)||Chevrolet||243||running||0||6|
|28||63||Spencer Boyd||Go-Parts.com (Mike Mittler)||RAM||237||crash||0||5|
|29||00||Cole Custer||Haas Automation (JR Motorsports)||Chevrolet||235||crash||0||4|
|30||71||Mike Bliss||Race Trac Convenience Stores (Carlos Contreras)||Chevrolet||115||electrical||0||3|
|31||33||Kaz Grala||Allegiant Travel (Maury Gallagher)||Chevrolet||91||crash||0||2|
|32||21||Johnny Sauter||Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff (Maury Gallagher)||Chevrolet||43||crash||0||1|