Friday May 27th, 2016 6:21AM

Crafton wins in Trucks at Martinsville for first time

By Hank Kurz, Jr., AP Sports Writer
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MARTINSVILLE, VA - Matt Crafton grabbed the lead for the first time with 47 laps to go and held on to win the rain-delayed Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday night for his fourth career victory.

It also was his first on the 0.526-mile paper clip, and a study in steady improvement.

"If you don't have the best car or truck there at the beginning of a run, you make changes throughout the race. It's about having a smart crew chief and someone putting their head on their shoulders and not tearing the stuff up," he said, crediting crew chief Carl Joiner for adjustments all race long.

"It's not so much stealing," Crafton said. "It's about beating them at the end when it counts."

Crafton, the defending series champion, passed local favorite Timothy Peters on the inside of the fourth turn to grab the top spot, then survived two two-lap sprints to the finish. The green-white-checkered run extended the race to 256 laps, leaving Crafton jokingly complaining about darkness.

After 24 previous starts at Martinsville, he was envisioning the track's signature trophy, a grandfather clock, in his living room at home, and not wanting to let anything get in the way.

"It's definitely one of those places that you want to win at just because that grandfather clock is such an awesome trophy to have in your house," he said. "Finally we got it. ... It's awesome."

Crafton became the 23rd driver to win in 31 truck races at Martinsville.

Darrell Wallace, Jr. was second, followed by Ben Kennedy, Johnny Sauter and Ryan Blaney.

Wallace, Jr. said his team struggled all day, too, after getting practice time in on Friday, then having qualifying rained out Saturday before racing after the Cup Series had run, changing conditions again.

"I thought I had enough saved for those last two (dashes), but we just couldn't get it done," he said.

Kennedy, conversely, wished he'd had more time to make a move.

"We were really rolling there at the end. I was really excited for it. I wish we'd had another 10 laps or so. I think we could have gotten up there and got 'em," Kennedy said.

Sauter and Peters were the hard-luck racers on the day.

Sauter led three times for a race-high 61 laps; Peters led six times for 49 laps.

The race, postponed by rain Saturday and run as part of a rare doubleheader following a 500-lap Sprint Cup race, was just the second of the season in the series, following the opener at Daytona on Feb. 17. The series will again take a long break, not racing again until May 9 in Kansas.

This one started at about 5:30 p.m., and finished with the sun setting and temperatures dropping.

NASCAR-Camping World Truck Series
Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville, VA
Kroger 250 - March 31, 2014

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (10) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 256 laps, 118.8 rating, 47 points.
2. (1) Darrell Wallace Jr., Toyota, 256, 126.6, 43.
3. (6) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, 256, 94.4, 41.
4. (14) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 256, 120.1, 41.
5. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 256, 106, 40.
6. (8) German Quiroga, Toyota, 256, 88.9, 38.
7. (3) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 256, 123.8, 38.
8. (12) Ben Rhodes, Chevrolet, 256, 84.5, 36.
9. (5) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 256, 115.9, 37.
10. (7) Brian Ickler, Toyota, 256, 86.1, 34.
11. (9) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 256, 90.8, 33.
12. (20) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 256, 81.9, 32.
13. (15) Chase Pistone, Chevrolet, 256, 69.6, 31.
14. (13) Ross Chastain, Ford, 256, 68.5, 30.
15. (21) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 256, 75.6, 29.
16. (17) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 256, 63.2, 28.
17. (18) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, 256, 70.9, 27.
18. (4) Erik Jones, Toyota, 256, 91.5, 26.
19. (11) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 256, 70.9, 25.
20. (16) John Wes Townley, Toyota, accident, 255, 88.2, 24.
21. (22) Jeb Burton, Toyota, 255, 59.8, 23.
22. (26) Caleb Holman, Chevrolet, 253, 55, 22.
23. (33) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 252, 50, 0.
24. (29) Ray Black Jr., Chevrolet, 250, 45.4, 20.
25. (31) Justin Jennings, Chevrolet, 249, 38.2, 19.
26. (34) Korbin Forrister, Chevrolet, 242, 35.2, 18.
27. (36) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ram, 241, 28.6, 17.
28. (35) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 235, 29.9, 16.
29. (19) Mason Mingus, Toyota, 216, 56.7, 15.
30. (28) Clay Greenfield, Ram, driveshaft, 189, 39.2, 14.
31. (23) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, power steering, 157, 39.3, 13.
32. (25) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, accident, 122, 49.1, 12.
33. (27) Bryan Silas, Chevrolet, accident, 120, 40.1, 11.
34. (32) Josh Williams, Ford, brakes, 82, 35.8, 10.
35. (30) Raymond Terczak Jr., Chevrolet, brakes, 52, 31, 9.
36. (24) Alex Guenette, Chevrolet, fuel pump, 32, 34.1, 8.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 68.741 mph.

Time of Race: 1 hour, 57 minutes, 32 seconds.

Margin of Victory: Under Caution.

Caution Flags: 10 for 56 laps.

Lead Changes: 17 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D.Wallace Jr. 1-15; T.Peters 16-28; D.Wallace Jr. 29-36; R.Hornaday Jr. 37-98; D.Wallace Jr. 99-101; R.Blaney 102-104; D.Wallace Jr. 105-111; J.Sauter 112-137; T.Peters 138; J.Sauter 139-169; T.Peters 170-173; J.Sauter 174-177; T.Peters 178-192; D.Wallace Jr. 193; T.Peters 194-208; M.Crafton 209-248; T.Peters 249; M.Crafton 250-256.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): R.Hornaday Jr., 1 time for 62 laps; J.Sauter, 3 times for 61 laps; T.Peters, 6 times for 49 laps; M.Crafton, 2 times for 47 laps; D.Wallace Jr., 5 times for 34 laps; R.Blaney, 1 time for 3 laps.

Top 10 in Points: 1. J.Sauter, 82; 2. T.Peters, 81; 3. M.Crafton, 78; 4. R.Blaney, 78; 5. R.Hornaday Jr., 76; 6. B.Kennedy, 72; 7. G.Quiroga, 72; 8. D.Wallace Jr., 61; 9. J.Burton, 60; 10. T.Reddick, 60.
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