Kevin Harvick won Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway in dominating fashion.
Immediately after the drop of the green flag, Harvick pulled two truck lengths ahead of rookie Ty Dillon. Rounding out the top five starting positions were Red Horse Racing’s Timothy Peters, Cale Gale in the Rheem Chevrolet on the outside of row 2, and veteran Ron Hornaday rounding out the Top 5. By Lap 15, Harvick extended his lead to half a straight away over Dillon and the rest of the field.
On Lap 20, The No. 9 truck of Hornaday spun right before start finish line after contact with the No. 6 of Justin Lofton to bring out the caution. While under caution the top five trucks did not pit, including Harvick who continued to lead the field. The restart occurred on Lap 24, with Harvick choosing to take the outside lane, leaving Dillon to restart on the inside line.
On the restart, Harvick immediately pulled out two truck lengths ahead of Dillon. He extended his lead and continued to pull away from the field as the laps ticked off. Dillon and Peters also pulled out half a straight away over the rest of the competition as the field began to spread out on the track.
Around Lap 50 Harvick began to lap the field, until the No. 22 of Joey Coulter had a right-side tire go down in Turn 4, bringing out the caution on Lap 75. Under caution Harvick continued to lead with Timothy Peters in second and Todd Bodine third. Dillon dropped back to fourth position, and Buescher resided in fifth position, gaining ground from his ninth-place starting point.
On the restart, Harvick chose the outside line once again, pulling out to a one truck lead when he came back to the start finish line. By this point in the race Hornaday, Matt Crafton, as well as Paulie Harraka all had battery issues within 100 laps of each other.
J.R. Fitzpatrick spun on Lap 92 to bring out the caution. John Wes Townley assisted him with the spin, getting into his bumper going into Turn 4. In this spin the No. 70 of Jeff Agnue accumulated damage as well. The race restarted on Lap 99 with Harvick in the lead once again. Five laps after the restart, Dillon kept Harvick in his sights, staying within two truck lengths of the leader.
Caution occurred on Lap 110 for Dusty Davis stalling on the track, with Crafton the lucky dog recipient. At this point Jeb Burton was very vocal on the radio in reference to the 81 truck of David Starr in reference to his aggressive driving style. Starr was rubbing him on track and gave him a difficult time while trying to pass him. With the restart on Lap 121, Harvick continued his strategy of choosing the outside lane. Dillon had a bit of trouble getting started on restart and got fender slammed by Peters. They avoided a wreck and were able to continue on.
At the halfway point the top two remained the same. Buescher continued his fast pace, putting himself in third position. Peters ran in the fourth position with Justin Lofton rounding out the top five.
On Lap 148 the No. 39 of Ryan Sieg blew up and caught fire on pit road, forcing safety officials to use fire extinguishers to contain the flames. Ten short laps later caution came out again on Lap 158 for David Star as his right rear tire went down. Hornaday received the lucky dog on this caution to put himself back on the lead lap again after a tough day. Leader Harvick brought the leaders down pit road as the tire management strategies began to play out - most pitted for four tires and fuel. Harvick, Dillon, Buescher, Justin Lofton, and Bodine were the Top 5 on the Lap 164 restart.
After coming off of pit road in fifth position, Bodine sustained front sway bar damage, making the handling of his race car very hard to maintain. At the same time on track, Ross Chastain, who was running behind Jason Leffler, reported that oil was piling out of No. 18 truck. Like clockwork, with 23 laps to go, the caution came out on the track for the No. 22 of Coulter had a tire go down to bring out the caution.
Shortly after the restart on lap 234, the No. 32 truck of Miguel Paludo checked up coming out of Turn 4, getting into the No. 24 Max Gresham and collecting the No. 27 of Burton. On the restart began with six laps to go, Harvick took the outside lane with Dillon on the inside. Harvick got the jump, while Dillon and Buescher scrambled for second position. With four laps to go, the top five became single file. In the final three laps, pushing and shoving between the trucks of JR Fitzpatrick and Jason White began as they fought for position inside the top 10.
Harvick went on to get the win in the 14th annual Kroger 250. Dillon held on to second position, with Buescher finishing in a hard fought third position. Lofton finished in fourth position, with Peters and Nelson Piquet Jr. rounding out the Top 5.
This is Harvick’s 14th win in 118 NASCAR Camping World truck series races. He led 248 of 250 laps in this race, making an all-time laps led in a single CWTS race record. This is also his third victory and ninth top-10 finish in 14 races at this track. Buescher posted his second top-10 finish in six races at Martinsville. John King continues to lead the points standings with one point over teammate Peters.
Kroger 250 top 10 finishers
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Austin Dillon
3. James Buescher
4. James Lofton
5. Timothy Peters
6. Nelson Piquet Jr.
7. Ross Chastain
8. Jason Leffler
9. John King
10. Jason White
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