NASCAR Truck: Chase Elliott wins at Martinsville
Chase Elliott in victory lane at Martinsville Speedway after winning the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 on April 1, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
After dominating the open stage of the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Saturday, Chase Elliott got back to the front with 17 laps remaining in the 250-lap race when previous race leader, Christopher Bell, made contact with Austin Cindric at the tail-end of the lead lap, sending Cindric into a spin and Bell out of the lead. Elliott drove on to win the race.
“It was a lot of fun today,” Elliott said. “Definitely had some help with Christopher’s misfortune. I was trying all I could to get by him. He was doing a really good job of maintaining my bumper and doing a good job with me hitting him.”
Sauter also got by Bell to finish second, giving GMS Racing a one-two finish. Bell held on to finish third.
“Looking back at it, I should have given myself another corner (to get by Cindric), and maybe the result would have been different,” Bell said. “It’s going to take a little bit to get over this one, but we’ll be fresh for Kansas.”
Elliott, Sauter and Bell were the only three lap leaders in the race, with Bell leading a race-high 96 laps, mostly through the final 110-lap third stage of the race. Elliott led 92 laps, including the first 75 laps after starting on the pole. As a result, he was the leader at the end of the first 70-lap stage. Sauter was credited with 62 laps led in stage two, including the final one in the stage to take the stage-two win.
After Elliott led early, Bell took a quick lead when he got off pit road first by taking only two tires during the caution that concluding the first stage of the race. Sauter also got off pit road ahead of Elliott to restart second. When the race restarted, Sauter took the lead and led throughout the remainder of the second stage.
The sixth yellow flag came for a slowed John Hunter Nemechek on lap 117. Sauter stayed out and maintain his lead, while Crafton moved up to second for the second by also staying out. Elliott and Bell were among those who pitted, and as a result, restarted outside the top-10. Sauter said after the race that he stayed out, because pit road didn’t open until after he passed pit entrance.
“The need to figure out when pit road is going to be open and when it’s not going to be open,” Sauter said. “When they don’t open it up for the leaders, and then, open it up for everyone else, it’s pretty crappy.”
After staying out during the lap-117 yellow, Sauter, Crafton and others pitted during the caution that signaled the end of the second stage. Bell and Elliott restarted in the top-two positions after staying out.
After restarting outside the top-10, Sauter got back into the top five with more than 50 laps remaining. With 37 laps to go, he moved up to third.
Bell’s Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Noah Gragson, finished fourth, and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Timothy Peters, Crafton and Ryan Truex.