Kennedy, Rhodes Engage in Confrontation
MARTINSVILLE, Va -- In typical Martinsville fashion, there was a post-race altercation between two drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series following the running of the Texas Roadhouse 200.
Ben Kennedy and Ben Rhodes confronted each other in the garage area after lap 177. Kennedy spun in turn two after a bump from Rhodes.
Kennedy is currently vying for a championship with GMS Racing. The wreck leaves Kennedy 10 points away from the cutoff line currently held by William Byron.
The caution, however, was a lucky break for Matt Crafton. On an earlier caution, Crafton went a lap down after fixing issues with the left-rear
Kennedy initiated the confrontation. “Come up to me and talk. Don’t stand over here. You gave me a headache all day and then you wreck us over in Turn 2. You wrecked us! That was the second time today! If you were sorry you would’ve walked over and talked to me instead of standing over here by your race truck.”
Rhodes quickly responded, “I was just trying to move you out of the way clean. I don’t want to start problems. That was never my intention.”
Despite the accident, Kennedy rebounded to an 18th place finish and did not fall a lap down. Rhodes finished in the 19th position behind Kennedy.
Sauter Clinches Ticket To Homestead
MARTINSVILLE, Va -- Johnny Sauter was able to hold off Chase Elliott in the Texas Roadhouse 200 to win his second race of 2016 and to clinch his spot into the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This is the second win in a row for GMS Racing.
“I felt like we had a really good car yesterday in practice. We didn’t necessarily focus on having a fast truck on short runs, but we focused on long runs. Proud of everyone at GMS. To be able to come here a place that has been kind to us over the year to get a win here was extra special,” says Sauter.
“We had a really strong truck,” said Elliott. “I was really glad we were able to run today. I hope it helps for tomorrow although it is a little bit different. It was good to get some laps and get better at this place.
The first half of the race started Elliott leading the field to green and set pace at the start. The field went quickly from three-wide racing to single file. As Elliott hit lapped traffic, he was passed by Cole Custer and Johnny Sauter. Sauter attempted to take the lead from Custer, but lapped traffic continued to hold him back. Sauter was able to take the lead once lapped traffic was passed. As the race progressed through the first half, drivers were bouncing off the curbs. Custer was able to catch back up to Sauter after battling through lapped traffic. However, the caution flew spins in turns one and two by Josh White and Kyle Donahue, who are making their first starts in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. Elliott was able to regain the lead after pit stops. On the restart, Elliott, Custer, and Sauter were able to but some distance on the field. However, Elliott was able build a lead over the field. Elliott was the leader, Custer was second, Sauter was third, Suarez was fourth, and Crafton rounded out the top-five.
The second half of the race continued, but the caution flew for Spencer Gallagher who was up against the wall in turn two due to a tire going down. On the restart, Elliott led the field to green and was able to keep the lead. Many drivers were complaining about their brakes. Elliott was able to put some distance between him and Custer when the race restarted. However, the caution flew for a spin by Tommy Joe Martins. As the caution flew, Matt Crafton was having left rear tire issues and was reporting no brakes. As the leader’s hits pit road, strategy was being played. Daniel Hemric stayed out and restarted the race as the leader. John Hunter Nemechek only took two tires on his pit stop. Crafton made his way to pit road, and went one lap down as he sat on pit road with his hood up. Nemechek was able to pass Hemric, but had Elliott on his back bumper. However, the caution flew for a spin by Harrison Burton in turn one. On the restart, Nemechek was able to get a jump on the field, but Sauter and Elliott were battling it out for second. Sauter was able to take the position from Elliott. As Sauter took the lead, the caution flew for an accident between John Wes Townley, Ben Kennedy. Ben Rhodes, and Matt Tifft. When the race restarted, Elliott and Sauter were the lone two drivers battling for the lead. However, time ran out for Elliott as Sauter took the checkered flag. Elliott finished second, Nemechek finished third, Christopher Bell finished fourth, and Timothy Peters rounded out the top-five.
The caution flew a total of five times for 33 laps. The avarage speed of the race was 73.839 mph. The time of the race was 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 36 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.316 mph. Three drivers were listed as out of the race. There were six lead changes five drivers. Elliott led the most laps at 109, Sauter led 50 laps, Nemechek led 18 laps, Custer led 17 laps, and Hemric led six laps.
The Chase in the Camping World Truck Series has Crafton and Kennedy as the drivers who are out after their issues during the race. Crafton is nine points away from the cutoff and Kennedy is ten points away from the cutoff. Of those in the top-four, Sauter holds a seven-point lead over Bell, Peters is eight points back, and William Byron is 11 points out.
Next up for the Camping World Truck Series is the Striping Technology 350 from Texas Motor Speedway. The race will kick-off a triple header weekend beginning on November 4th at 8:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.
Elliott Wins Truck Pole at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, VA -- Chase Elliott will start from the pole in today’s Texas Roadhouse 200 from Martinsville Speedway. This is his second career pole in 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. Elliott was able to sweep all three rounds of qualifying.
The first round of qualifying was stopped after fluid was reported on the speedway in turns one and two. The caution flew again with less than two minutes remaining for a spin by Brad Foy. Once the track went green, there was a mad dash to get a fast lap in. However, Elliott was the fastest in the round at 95.767 mph, Christopher Bell was second fastest at 95.550 mph, Cameron Hayley was third fastest at 95.420 mph, Cole Custer was fourth at 95.280 mph, and Ben Kennedy rounds out the top-five at 95.170 mph. Four drivers will not have the chance to qualify include Foy, Kyle Soper, Casey Smith, and Donnie Levister. All Chase drivers were able to advance into the second round.
The second round of qualifying saw a mad dash onto the speedway to lay down a fast lap. This round went without accident. Elliott was the fastest in this round at 96.122 mph, Bell was second at 95.878 mph, Daniel Suarez was third at 95.874 mph, Custer was fourth at 95.733 mph, and William Byron rounded out the top-five at 95.685 mph. Chase drivers who did not advance to the final round were Ben Kennedy who will start 18th and Timothy Peters who will start 19th.
The third round of qualifying went without accident. Elliott was fastest at 96.254 mph, Suarez will start second at 95.922 mph, Custer will start third at 95.903 mph, Tyler Reddick will start fourth at 95.883 mph, and Sauter rounded out the top-five at 95.854 mph.
The Texas Roadhouse 200 from Martinsville will be on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:41 p.m. EST.
Crew Chatter: Martinsville
Fire up the scanners, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Martinsville with the question, “Of the chase drivers who have been eliminated, who has the best chance of "spoiling the show" on the Round of 8?
It's really difficult to choose just one driver because everyone that is no longer in title contention will be looking to redeem themselves.
Who would have thought that Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. would be eliminated this early. Those engine woes they both had were big hits to their championship hopes and also busted a lot of Chase grids. I do think that if anyone comes back and 'spoils' the next four weeks (can you believe there are only that many left?), it will be Truex Jr. I just think he went out too early because of rotten luck. That Furniture Row Racing team has shown what they are made of and they will come back.
I'm not counting Keselowski out either. If you got the chance to listen to his interview at Kansas after he wrecked, he has the mentality to put this behind him and move on to the next race. I feel like he will be gunning for them the rest of the season. He was on pace to win Talladega before engine issues and I be he comes back and wins at least one more race before the year is over. It will also be interesting to see if he helps out his teammate Joey Logano, who does have a berth into the 'Round of Eight'.
I don't know why but part of me thinks the race winner at Homestead could be a 'spoiler' and not one of the 'Championship Four'
If you really think about it, there are actually more drivers than you think are "hot" heading into the Round of 8 that are more than ready to spoil the party.
Austin Dillon has two straight top ten finishes, and if it weren't for a call to take two tires that backfired on him at Charlotte, that could be three.
Chase Elliott has been in contention for the win in almost every race so far in this Chase (no pun intended), and is in some of the best equipment in all of NASCAR.
Brad Keselowski has been one of the most consistent drivers all season. He top-fived his way to the Round of 12, and was a spin into the grass and blown engine away from possibly another Talladega win and a spot in the next round.
And finally, there's Martin Truex Jr. My championship pick, and a very popular one amongst NASCAR fans and drivers alike. Is it fair that the dominant team, driver and car for 30 races won't contend for the title due to bad luck? Probably not. But it is what it is, and you can bet the No. 78 Toyota will win some more races this season.
I believe that we will see the Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Brad Keselowski have the chance at winning races in the “Round of Eight”. Why? Keselowski and Truex would have advanced if it was not for engine issues last weekend at Talladega they would have advanced to this round. Both drivers were competitive all throughout the season, and I do not see that their competitiveness will not linger despite not cotending for a championship. With Elliott, he has been knocking at the door each and every week for a win. I would have to consider Austin Dillon as the very darkhorse to spoil this next round because he has been knocking on the door of a win, but barely missed this round. Dillon has been consistent all year, but will have to get a win soon.
Texas Roadhouse 200 Preview
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series bump drafts their way out of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway to the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway nestled in the mountains of Virginia for the 18th annual Texas Roadhouse 200. This will kick off the “Round of Six” for the Chase. A win by a Chase driver will guarantee a lock at a chance for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
37 drivers will be competing for 32 spots in Saturday’s headliner. Harrison Burton will be making his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) this weekend. Daniel Suarez will field a second entry for KBM. Chase Elliott will be competing in Saturday’s event for Contreras Motorsports.
Martinsville Speedway was built in 1947 by H. Clay Earles, and is the only track to host NASCAR sanctioned races since 1949. Martinsville is known on the NASCAR circuit as “The Paperclip”, due to its shape and its tight corners. The track width is only 55 feet. The turns are 588 feet in length and the straights are 800 feet. Pit road begins at the entrance of turn three and goes to the exit of turn two and is only 46 feet wide.
There have been 24 different pole winners at Martinsville. 25 different drivers have won in Truck competition. Eight races have been won from the pole at Martinsville with Joey Logano being the last driver to do so back in 2015. In 1999, the race record was set by Jimmy Hensley at 74.282 mph. Logano holds the qualifying record set back in 2015 at 97.088 mph.
Drivers talk about what it means to race at Martinsville.
“My dad (Jeff Burton) said that protecting the bottom is huge at Martinsville. We watched tape and it gets crazy there, so he says you have to be cautious, but very assertive while protecting the bottom. He also told me that since this is my very first truck race and I am 16, I need to soak in this opportunity to learn and gain experience and the respect of the other drivers,” said H. Burton on the advice given to him by his father.
"Martinsville is a place I'm always looking forward to getting back to. As someone who grew up short-track racing, it's a place where I feel like I can excel, and it's also one of the places I have the most experience at. Track position at a place like Martinsville is key, especially in this shorter 200-lap race. You don't have a lot of time to make your way to the front, so you have to unload fast, qualify well and make the right decisions to stay up front. We are 100-percent focused on winning races at this point, so we're able to take some chances we may not have been able to make if we were still in contention for the championship,” says Daniel Hemric, who was eliminated from the Chase last weekend at Talladega.
"I would say Martinsville is one of my best tracks. I've been competitive every time I have been there. I'm not nervous. That's strange to say knowing that it's a track where anything can happen, but I'm really confident in this team and what everyone at GMS Racing has built,” says Johnny Sauter.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will have two practice sessions on Friday at Martinsville, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Qualifying for the Texas Roadhouse 200 will be at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday. The race will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.