Auto Club 400 - Practice

Matt Crafton holds off Bubba Wallace to finally win elusive grandfather’s clock in 25th try at Martinsville

Leave a comment

Matt Crafton held off Darrell Wallace Jr. to win Sunday’s rescheduled Kroger 250 Camping World Trucks Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Making his 318th career trucks series start, Crafton won his fourth race in the series – and first at the .526-mile southern Virginia bullring – by getting a jump on the final restart with three laps to go and never relinquished the lead.

The win came in Crafton’s 25th career trucks start at Martinsville.

“Those guys raced me clean,” Crafton said of Wallace and Timothy Peters, who was running second on the final restart until he was knocked out of the way by Wallace. “I can’t thank them enough.

“I was trying to anticipate where Timothy was going to go because he was lagging back on me so far. But it was awesome, we finally got that grandfather’s clock (the prize that goes to the winner) at Martinsville.

The 250-lap race actually went 256 laps due to two late attempts at a green-white-checker finish.

Crafton paced the field after both restarts, although Wallace, last fall’s winner at Martinsville, gave him all he could handle on what proved to be the final lap.

Crafton becomes the 23rd different winner in 31 Trucks races at Martinsville.

Wallace finished second, followed by Ben Kennedy, Johnny Sauter and Ryan Blaney in fifth.

Sixth through 10th were German Quiroga Jr., Peters, Ron Hornday Jr., Cole Custer and Brian Icker.

John Wes Townley looked like he might be headed for a top-5 finish, but was turned around on the backstretch by Quiroga on the final lap, leaving Townley with a disappointing 19th-place finish.

Quiroga also got into a beating and banging affair after the race with Peters, his teammate. The battle became so heated that Peters slammed on his brakes, and Quiroga plowed into the back of Peters’ truck, causing significant body damage to Quiroga’s ride.

“It was just wild and exciting at Martinsville,” Peters said. “First, the 54 (Wallace) moved me out of the way, but I wouldn’t expect my own teammate to do it.

“It’s Martinsville, tempers are going to flare. I apologize to all the guys back at the shop for two teammates getting into it, but German’s got a lot to learn. It’s Martinsville, baby.”

Hornaday also was spun late in the race after a tangle with Quiroga and had words with the latter afterward.

Thirteen drivers took part in their first career trucks race at Martinsville, with eight of those also making their overall series debut for the first time, as well.

Here are the unofficial results of Sunday’s, followed by the unofficial updated points standings:

1 Matt Crafton

2 Darrell Wallace Jr.

3 Ben Kennedy

4 Johnny Sauter

5 Ryan Blaney

6 German Quiroga Jr.

7 Timothy Peters

8 Ron Hornaday Jr.

9 Cole Custer

10 Brian Icker

11 John Hunter Nemechek

12 Chase Pistone

13 Ross Chastain

14 Brandon Jones

15 Tyler Reddick

16 Joey Coulter

17 Erik Jones

18 Gray Gaulding

19 John Wes Townsley

20 Ben Rhodes

21 Jeb Burton

22 Caleb Holman

23 Travis Kvapil

24 Ray Black Jr.

25 Justin Jennings

26 Korbin Forrister

27 Jennifer Jo Cobb

28 Norm Benning

29 Mason Mingus

30 Clay Greenfield

31 Tyler Young

32 Spencer Gallagher

33 Bryan Silas

34 Josh Williams

35 Raymond Terczak Jr.

36 Alex Guenette

Here are the updated points standings in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series:

1 Johnny Sauter

2 Timothy Peters -1

3 Matt Crafton -4

4 Ryan Blaney -4

5 Ron Hornaday Jr. -5

6 Ben Kennedy -10

7 German Quiroga Jr. -10

8 Darrell Wallace Jr. -21

9 Tyler Reddick -21

10 Jeb Burton -22

11 John Wes Townley -27

12 Justin Jennings -35

13 Brian Ickler -37

14 Ross Chastain -37

15 Joey Coulter -42

16 Norm Benning -42

17 Jennifer Jo Cobb -42

18 Cale Holman -43

19 Bryan Silas -44

20 Joe Nemechek -48

21 Jimmy Weller III -47

22 Cole Custer -47

23 John Hunter Nemechek -49

24 Chase Pistone -50

25 Mason Mingus -51

26 Brandon Jones -52

27 Erik Jones -55

28 Gray Gaulding -56

29 Chris Fontaine -57

30 Ben Rhodes -58

31 Tyler Young -59

32 John King -61

33 Michel Disdier -62

34 Ray Black Jr. -62

35 Brennan Newberry -63

36 Korbin Forrister -64

37 Clay Greenfield -68

38 Sean Corr -69

39 Spencer Gallagher -70

40 Josh Williams -72

41 Chris Cockrum -73

42 Raymond Terczak Jr. -73

43 Alex Guenette -74

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two in second Belgian GP practice

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Max Verstappen headed up a Red Bull one-two in the second Formula 1 practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday afternoon at Spa-Francorchamps.

After seeing Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton lead for Mercedes in FP1, Red Bull bounced back in the second session with Verstappen setting a fastest lap of 1:48.085.

Verstappen finished three-tenths of a second clear of teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the top of the timesheets, giving the army of Dutch fans that had made the trip to Spa plenty to smile about.

Mercedes opted to alter its usual FP2 running plan by getting both Rosberg and Hamilton to focus on their long-run pace ahead of Sunday’s race instead of chasing optimum lap time.

Rosberg finished the session sixth-fastest as the leading W07 Hybrid driver, with Hamilton down in P13. The Briton also has a 30-place grid penalty hanging over him for the race.

Nico Hulkenberg continued Force India’s impressive start to the weekend by finishing third-fastest for Force India, with teammate Sergio Perez following half a second behind in P5. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel split the pair in fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen was seventh in the second SF16-H.

Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez both finished inside the top 10 in FP2, ending up P8 and P10 respectively at the checkered flag. Jenson Button was ninth for McLaren.

The session was without major incident bar one short Virtual Safety Car period following a stoppage for Renault’s Jolyon Palmer. Palmer was able to get his car back going again while sat in the run-off area and returned to the pits.

The on-track action at Spa resumes on Saturday with FP3, live on the NBC Sports app and on desktop from 5am ET.

Hamilton gets another fresh power unit, up to 30-place grid penalty for Spa

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton has taken another fresh power unit ahead of the second Formula 1 practice session in Belgium on Friday, causing his grid penalty to rise to 30 places.

Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that he would be taking a grid penalty at Spa for exceeding the number of permitted engine components for the season.

The F1 drivers’ championship leader was forced to make unplanned changes earlier in the year due to issues on his power unit, making a grid drop inevitable later in the season.

Mercedes confirmed on Friday morning that Hamilton had taken a fresh power unit for first practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, before taking the decision to take another new one for FP2 in the afternoon.

Hamilton has now taken seven MGU-Hs and seven turbochargers on his power unit, as well as five MGU-Ks and internal combustion engines (ICE). Drivers are allowed to use five of each component across the course of the season.

Hamilton will receive a 10-place grid penalty for the first ‘seventh’ component and five for the second, meaning the fresh power unit costs him 15 places on the grid. Combined with the penalty taken this morning, his grid drop for the Belgian Grand Prix is now up to 30 positions.

Hamilton takes initial 15-place grid drop at Spa

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton has taken an initial 15-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Formula 1 race in Belgium after exceeding the number of permitted power unit components for the season.

Issues in the early races of 2016 meant a grid drop was inevitable for Hamilton later in the year, given that drivers are limited to using five of each power unit component across the course of the season.

Hamilton confirmed on Thursday that he would be taking his grid drop in Spa in the hope that further penalties could be avoided later in the season.

Mercedes announced during first practice on Friday that both Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg had taken fresh power units for the race weekend.

“Fresh power units this morning for both Lewis and Nico,” a team spokesperson confirmed. “For Lewis this comprises ICE 4, MGU-K 4, MGU-H 6 and TC 6. This incurs a 15-place grid penalty.

“For Nico, it is his fourth of all those items.”

It is feasible that Mercedes will take additional new components for Hamilton before the race on Sunday, meaning his 15-place grid drop may grow.

However, both Marcus Ericsson (10 places) and Fernando Alonso (35) are also set to take grid drops after also exceeding the five component limit, meaning Hamilton may not start last.

Nevertheless, the advantage does lie firmly with title rival Rosberg heading into the race weekend as the German looks to cut the 19-point gap to his teammate.

Rosberg quickest in Belgium FP1 as Halo gets further tests

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo fitted with the halo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nico Rosberg marked Formula 1’s return from its summer break by topping the opening practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix on Friday morning.

Rosberg spent the first part of the session testing the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection device, which is going through further evaluation ahead of a possible introduction for 2018.

The Halo has previously been used only on one-lap runs, but Rosberg completed an extended stretch to aid in giving feedback. Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo also lapped using the Halo in the early part of the session.

With the Halo fitted and super-soft tires on the car, Rosberg recorded a fastest lap time of 1:48.348 during the 90-minute session to finish three-quarters of a second clear at the top of the timesheets, heading up a Mercedes one-two.

Lewis Hamilton finished second in the sister W07 Hybrid, but is already on the back foot after Mercedes confirmed that he will take a 15-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Kimi Raikkonen was the best of the rest for Ferrari, finishing third ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez. Sebastian Vettel was fifth in the second Ferrari ahead of the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who is set to enjoy a sizeable amount of support this weekend thanks to the large number of fans making the trip from his native Netherlands to Belgium.

Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth in the second Force India ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, while Esteban Gutierrez made a strong start to the weekend to finish P10.