Chase Elliott’s goal was to log a lot of laps at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and get better in preparation for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Consider it mission accomplished.
Elliott, who started on the pole for Saturday’s Alpha 250 Camping World Truck Series race, moved into the lead on Lap 234 of 250 after then-leader Christopher Bell got caught up in a wreck while trying to put Austin Cindric a lap down.
After that, Elliott feverishly worked to hold off Johnny Sauter, using several well-timed blocks on the final restart to secure his second Truck series win and first since 2013.
Bell rebounded to finish third, Noah Gragson ended up fourth and Ty Dillon completed the top-five.
“Obviously, we had a little help with (Bell’s) misfortune, but once we got by him, I thought our truck was a little better than his,” Elliott said in Victory Lane. “That last restart was wild.
“It was just a matter of getting by (Sauter) quickly and doing it decently, in a quick manner. Luckily, we only had to do it once with it staying green until the end.”
Before Bell’s incident with Cindric, Elliott and Bell had battled for several laps for the lead.
“Johnny was coming and I had been trying to pressure (Bell) for laps and laps and laps and that’s the one downfall when you’re the leader – you can’t control what those guys are going to do ahead of you,” Elliott said.
“Johnny was coming to pressure me and it was time to either go or not.”
Sauter wasn’t particularly pleased with several of Elliott’s moves blocking his advance.
“Chase did what had he did to win the race,” Sauter said. “Next time, I’ll do what I have to do.”
A caution for Ross Chastain getting spun by Elliott locked in the stage victory for Sauter and the race did not get back underway by the close of the 70-lap segment.
Crafton ended up second, Chase Briscoe was third, Timothy Peters fourth and Grant Enfinger fifth.
Bell and Elliott were among a handful of drivers that elected to make their pit stop before the end of the stage, which put them back in the field.
“We’re killing our tires back here,” Elliott said over his team radio.
While most teams pit during the stage break, Bell and Elliott remained on the track and began the final stage on the front row.
Elliott dominated the first 70-lap stage, leading all 70 laps from the pole.
Elliott spent the last 20 laps of the stage fending off a challenge from his GMS Racing teammate, Sauter, for the lead.
During the break, Elliott told his crew chief that his left foot “was falling asleep” at times and he didn’t know why.
Crafton finished third in the stage, Bell was fourth and Enfinger rounded out the top-five.