The time was right: Busch wins at Martinsville

The time was right: Busch wins at Martinsville

Reese Nobles

Ben Rhodes started on pole for Saturday’s Alpha Energy 250 at Martinsville, alongside Kyle Busch in his first truck series race of the season. Kyle Larson also started his first truck series race of the season at the Southwestern Virginia track dubbed “The Paperclip.” With only three sets of tires per team it will be interesting to see how teams use their tires on a track that demands the most out of arguably any track on the circuit

 

The field, littered with rookies also had a strong contingent of veterans such as  two-time series champion. Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters. Polesitter Ben Rhodes did not let Busch intimidate him, nudging Busch sideways on lap three. Rhodes led 42 of the first 43 laps until the first caution came when Johnny Sauter got into the wall hard in turns three and four and limped his No.21 around to pit road. Under caution both the No.10 of Claire Decker, driving for Jennifer Jo Cobb and the No.44 of Austin Wayne Self were assessed penalties for uncontrolled tires on pit road. Leader Ben Rhodes came out ninth while Kyle Busch assumed the lead as the field went back green.

 

Kyle Larson worked around Busch on lap 62 to take the lead after using Claire Decker’s lap down No.10 as a pick heading down the backstretch into turns three and four. Kaz Grala wrecked in turn four on lap 91. Under caution, leader Kyle Larson came down pit lane while second place Kyle Busch opted to stay out. Brandon Boyd had difficulty getting into his pit stall after being blocked in, Boyd is using the third pit stall. Under caution, Daniel Hemric  was penalized for pitting outside his box and Rico Abreu for passing through too many boxes while exiting pit road. The crash caused Grala to exit the truck early after the wreck.

 

Going back green, Busch led Crafton followed by Larson and K&N East champion William Byron. Larson got the lead back, flying around Busch going into turn one on lap 104.  At halfway, Larson led Busch, Cameron Hayley, Matt Crafton and William Byron and held the lead until lap 134 when Spencer Gallagher was spun by Ryan Truex in turn four.

 

Cameron Hayley pressured Kyle Larson for a plethora of laps, until Hayley finally got around Larson in turn one while the field worked lap 152. Larson had led since lap 105 when he took it from Kyle Busch. Hayley lost the lead after Busch flew around on the high side while the duo worked lap 163. Shortly after, Parker Kligerman went around after contact with Ben Kennedy while trying to work around one of the two Decker sisters. John Wes Townley was given a penalty after having men over the wall too soon during his pit stop under caution.

 

Spencer Gallagher spun after being tapped by Spencer Boyd, both drivers spun in turn two but the rest of the field managed to work through the wreck, Busch led Crafton, Rhodes, Abreu and Reddick. The leaders stayed out under caution, this should provide valuable experience for Abreu, a driver who admittedly has had a hard time adjusting to Martinsville.

 

Paige Decker brought out the caution on lap 185, right in front of Kyle Busch, almost collecting the leader. The caution provides a good opportunity for teams to take tires, Rhodes, Reddick, Abreu and Bell all pitted while Busch, Crafton and Larson all stayed out, anticipating another caution closer to the end of the race.

 

With 50 to go, Austin Wayne Self and Tyler Reddick got together in turn four, Matt Crafton came in for four tires and fuel but Busch , Larson, Nemechek and Byron stayed out followed by Daniel Suarez. Cameron Hayley almost spun in turn one after the field restarted, being pushed by Timothy Peters. Ben Kennedy brought out the caution on lap 219 after spinning in turn two after being nudged by Chris Bell.

 

Claire Decker spun in turn four to bring out the caution on lap 230 after a frustrating day in her Camping World Truck Series debut. Once again, none of the leaders came in for tires. Cole Custer, Chris Bell after John Wes Townley got into Bell going down the backstretch. The wreck brought out the red flag. While under red, Larson and Suarez pulled up beside Nemechek to exchange pleasantries after being forced threewide by Nemechek, after the red flag, Spencer Boyd, required a push to get started after leaking oil on the frontstretch, the team then pulled the car to the garage.

 

The leaders once again didn't pit and the field went green with  six to go after an 8:32 second red flag period. Timothy Peters spun Justin Haley who got into Ben Rhodes, behind the incident Tyler Young was spun by Daniel Suarez. Busch led Nemechek, Byron, Peters and Larson back as the field entered overtime after a red flag period.

 

Kyle Busch led the field to green and finished in in front to earn his first grandfather clock after winning the Alpha Energy 250. Busch was followed by John Hunter Nemechek, William Byron, Kyle Larson and Timothy Peters. The win is Kyle’s first at Martinsville in any series and his 45th victory in the Camping World Truck Series

 

Post-race, Kyle was asked why he still races in trucks despite being a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and in spite of his injury in the Xfinity Series last season at Daytona. Busch replied “ I like to make sure all the equipment is right.”

 

  1. Kyle Busch

  2. John Hunter Nemechek

  3. William Byron

  4. Kyle Larson

  5. Timothy Peters

  6. Spencer Gallagher

  7. Matt Crafton

  8. Parker Kligerman

  9. Cameron Hayley

  10. Rico Abreu

  11. Ben Kennedy

  12. Ryan Truex

  13. Tyler Young

  14. Brandon Brown

  15. Austin Wayne Self

  16. Ben Rhodes

  17. Shane Lee

  18. Daniel Suarez

  19. Christopher Bell

  20. Tyler Reddick

  21. John Wes Townley

  22. Daniel Hemric

  23. Bryce Napier

  24. Timmy Hill

  25. Paige Decker

  26. Justin Haley

  27. Claire Decker

  28. Spencer Boyd

  29. Cole Custer

  30. Mike Bliss

  31. Kaz Grala

  32. Johnny Sauter

Series 
Trackside