Denny Hamlin may not make appearances in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series very often, but when he does, he's almost always in contention. Such was the case at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Saturday when Hamlin claimed the win in the Kroger 200, driving the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
"I don't get to race these races very often, so I've got to make the best of them when I do," Hamlin said.
I love this place. It's short track racing at its finest.
Nelson Piquet Jr. finished second in the No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet, and Joey Coulter was third in the No. 22 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Hamlin started the race from the back after he missed the mandatory drivers' meeting. As he methodically worked his way toward the front, pole sitter Timothy Peters led the race early on in the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota.
Peters ran up front until he was passed for the lead by the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick on lap 49. Peters then lost the second spot to the No. 13 ThorSport Toyota of Johnny Sauter a lap later and eventually slipped to the back of the top-10.
Meanwhile, Harvick remained up front until Matt Crafton claimed the lead in the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota with 39 laps to go.
The racing got physical in the final laps of the 200-lap event, and after physical side-by-side racing with Crafton for the lead; Hamlin took over the top spot with six laps to go.
"I love this place," Hamlin said. "It's short track racing at its finest."
Crafton wound up losing a couple more spots in the final laps to finish fourth.
Piquet was among the drivers in the middle of much of the late-race contact.
"Last year, one of my issues was not being hard enough," Piquet said. "Yeah, maybe I went over the line a few times. That's part of learning."
"The second half of practice, we got better, and in the second half of the race, we came back, too," Buescher said.
He was able take the series points lead and build a 21-point cushion on previous leader Ty Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Motorsports Chevrolet. Dillon wound up 28th after hitting the wall when a tire went down on his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with 50 laps remaining.
Peters finished seventh, Ryan Blaney was eighth in the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ram, Parker Kligerman was ninth in the No. 7 Red Horse Racing Toyota, and Brian Scott rounded out the top-10 in the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
Harvick headed down pit road for a flat tire during the seventh and final caution of the race with 14 laps to go. With everyone else staying on the race track, he wound up restarting in the back and failed to climb back into the top-10 after leading more than half of the race.