Stewart wins, Gaughan reclaims point lead in Richmond "Virginia Is For Lovers 200" (Richmond, VA) With less than a month before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series motors into South Boston, fearless drivers in the rough and tumble division sat...
Stewart wins, Gaughan reclaims point lead in Richmond "Virginia Is For Lovers 200"
(Richmond, VA) With less than a month before the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series motors into South Boston, fearless drivers in the rough and tumble division sat out of afternoon action at Richmond International Raceway because clouds opened and poured out enough to dampen spirits for a kickoff to the highly touted Chevy Rock and Roll 400 weekend. With big plans on the horizon, all the glamour and glitz of expectation could not force sunshine through those heavy clouds. As luck would have it, clouds moved out and track drying was completed for the scheduled start.
Tightly bunched in a frontrunning points battle, Brendan Gaughan (#62 Las Vegas, NV) and Travis Kvapil (#16 Janesville, WI) have been heating up the asphalt in Craftsman Truck competition, both aiming at the series championship and a large NASCAR trophy. Starting upfront for the "Virginia is for Lovers 200", Kvapil took the point on points and led Gaughan to the line, as the green flag waved. Gaughan powered to the outside in turn two and claimed the early lead, but Ted Musgrave (#1 Franklin, WI) moved under Gaughan on lap three to claim the spot.
Winston Cup regulars Tony Stewart (#33), Jimmy Spencer (#2), and Ken Schrader (#52) highlighted the stellar field, all having to move up through traffic after starting back in the field due to qualifying being washed out. Stuart, Virginia native Jon Wood drove his Bob Graham for President Roush Ford into the Top 5, while Spencer made up ground in seventh by lap 30.
Caution waved on lap 33, as Dennis Setzer (#46 Newton, NC) nudged his way three-wide for second under Brendan Gaughan, causing the lap machine of Tina Gordon (#31 Cedar Bluff, AL) to slap the outside wall in three.
Musgrave walked his way out front on the restart, as Setzer and Gaughan battled for second. Veterans Bobby Hamilton (#4 Nashville, TN), Spencer, and Robert Pressley (#59 Asheville, NC) line up under Carl Edwards (#99 Columbia, MO), while Schrader joined the four way battle for eighth by lap 48. Edwards held his line and scooted away as the wiley veterans scuffled for track position. Hamilton won the scuffle and passed Edwards to advance to sixth by lap 50. Within 10 laps, Hamilton bypassed Gaughan for fourth, while Tony Stewart made his way into the Top 10 after starting 27th.
Jon Wood rolled into second around Setzer on lap 78, setting his sights on Musgrave, as Hamilton clawed his way toward Setzer. Hamilton used lap traffic as a pick to take third on lap 86, while Musgrave bunched up with Wood behind slower lap trucks. Musgrave cleared his lead, but Hamilton went hard to the outside of Wood, then again for the lead on lap 92 around Musgrave. Caution waved for sparks flying from the rear of Brendan Gaughan, as he cut a right front tire. Gaughan was running seventh at the time.
Pitroad was a hot bed of activity under the caution with Hamilton maintaining the lead, while Stewart made use of a quick stop and emerged second, followed by Spencer. Stewart used the restart to claim the lead, attempting to repeat as champion of the fall event at RIR. Hamilton went door to door with Stewart in a drag race for the lead on lap 109. Stewart held the lead, but could not shake Hamilton, as Hamilton plunged forward. As Stewart and Hamilton slipped together, Spencer gained the advantage, only to see Hamilton re-claim his composure and the lead on lap 115. Stewart fell to third as Musgrave and Wood clambered their way to position behind the reigning Winston Cup Champion.
As Carl Edwards scraped the wall, Pressley looped his Harris Trucking/Melling Engine Dodge, bringing out the caution on lap 143. Hamilton maintained his lead, while Travis Kvapil climbed back into the Top 5 after fading from the early pole. Spencer checked Hamilton's bumper on the restart, temporarily claiming the lead until Chad Chaffin (#18 Smyrna, TN) spun in turn two, bringing a slow to Spencer's charge.
On the restart, Matt Crafton's lap truck attempted a three wide move under Spencer, sending a potential winner into the outside wall. Spencer, remarked with obvious displeasure, "That's why those guys don't run Winston Cup", as he walked back to the garage. "The Team ASE Dodge was good enough to win", said Spencer, "but that's what happens when you run with some of these guys."
The sixth caution waved for contact between two lap cars, setting the field for a 25 lap charge to the finish. Hamilton kept the lead, while popular, local NASCAR Late Model competitor Mark McFarland (#07 Winchester, VA) rolled in eleventh before the lap 175 restart. Robert Pressley recovered from a mid-race spin to post back on the leaderboard in sixth, while Gaughan also battled back into the Top 10.
Stewart went right for the lead on the restart, as Hamilton fell to his charge. Musgrave looked inside Hamilton, made contact, sending Hamilton spinning in a plume of smoke. As the caution waved, Hamilton righted the Square-D machine and maintained a lead lap position. Hamilton pitted and lined up in 13th on the restart with four fresh tires.
Musgrave muscled under Stewart for the lead, but Stewart pinched him down. Musgrave battled back, but Stewart shoved Musgrave again to keep the lead on the outside. Pressley moved around Wood for third, as Stewart continued to battle Musgrave for top honors. With 10 to go, Pressley lay wait in third as Stewart fended off the charge of Musgrave. Nose to tail for five laps, Pressley clung to the inside for second, finally claiming the spot with two to go. Pressley applied the pressure to Stewart, but could not make the pass. As the white flag waved, Pressley charged, then slipped sending Stewart to victory in a successful defense of the race title.
Hamilton found Gaughan's bumper after the checkered flag, sending him barreling into turn one's SAFER barrier with the series point lead. Gaughan reclaimed the point lead by five over Kvapil. This marks the fifth consecutive time the point lead has traded in as many events, tying a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record.
NASCAR Craftsman Trucks return to Virginia on October 4th in the John Boy and Billy Craftsman Truck 250 at Big Daddy's South Boston Speedway. Tickets are available for that event by calling the speedway at 1-877-440-1540 or logging on to www.tickets.com.