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

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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

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Longtime Knoxville Raceway promoter, Ralph Capitani, dies

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Photo via @KnoxvilleRaces Twitter
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Knoxville Raceway likely wouldn’t be what it is as one of the country’s most renowned short tracks without the work of Ralph Capitani.

Capitani has died following a battle of cancer (according to Speed Sport), news of which was announced Monday by the track. The longtime promoter at the track was born in 1932.

Capitani, better known as “Cappy,” oversaw a huge rise in the stature and popularity of the track’s premier event – the Knoxville Nationals – after taking the reins as the track’s new race director and promoter in 1978.

Some of the elements Capitani worked to implement were improved facilities, purses, safety standards, car counts and audience, the latter of which saw the Knoxville Nationals eventually make it to TV. He also established the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.

In his 40th year at Knoxville in 2007, Capitani said the prestige of the Knoxville Nationals remained incredible.

“I think the Knoxville Nationals is the best sprint car race of the year, bar none,” he said in 2007, via InLappedTraffic. “It is the only time you see ALL of the best sprint car drivers competing on the same playing field. It is a United States and Internationally wide event.”

He retired from the track at the end of 2011.

Knoxville Raceway released a statement confirming Capitani’s passing, and thanking him for all he did to put the track and race on the map.

A portion of the statement reads: “A visionary in the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger and the grandstands fuller. He achieved them all with a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for every team owner, driver, crew member and fan that ever crossed his path.”

IndyCar’s last big pre-season test occurs this week at Sebring

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Conor Daly. Photo: IndyCar
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Pre-season testing for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season will conclude this week with all eight full-season teams having two days at Sebring International Raceway’s short course on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sebring marks the closest venue to simulate street course conditions; four of the first eight races are street races while only one street race, Toronto, occurs in the second half of the season.

Although this is private testing, this will be a de facto “spring training” on the 1.5-mile road course for teams to see what the others are running all at once. IndyCar’s official spring training, the Prix View test at Phoenix International Raceway’s 1-mile oval, occurred on February 10-11.

The bulk of the field runs tomorrow, with seven of the eight teams set to test – the only exception is Andretti Autosport. Andretti is listed to test on Wednesday.

All but one of the 21 full-season drivers expected for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener on March 12 will test this week. The one not listed is Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing; Bourdais and Ed Jones tested at Sebring in January prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

They’ll be joined by the three drivers making their test debuts, all for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Robert Wickens, Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani and Luis Michael Dorrbecker.

Wickens tests tomorrow as part of his planned ride swap with James Hinchcliffe, with Derani and Dorrbecker set to test on Wednesday.

Sebring is usually a hotbed for tests over the IndyCar offseason. This year saw A.J. Foyt Enterprises (in late January with Chevrolet) and Chip Ganassi Racing (in early January with Honda) premiere their new manufacturers and aero kits at Sebring, among other teams that have tested here.

Although the test season has seen an increase in interest this year, the regular season starts in St. Petersburg and returns to NBCSN with Long Beach on April 9.

F1 Paddock Pass: 2017 launch roundup (VIDEO)

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The NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass returns today with a recap of the remaining launches of the 2017 Formula 1 cars that occurred over the weekend.

Williams was first to reveal a rendering of its 2017 car, but it wasn’t a formal launch. Sauber’s online launch properly kicked off proceedings last Monday, before Renault, Force India and Mercedes did actual launches, and then Ferrari (online) and McLaren (in Woking) both launched on Friday.

Official launches then followed for Williams, Red Bull, Haas and Toro Rosso over the weekend. Haas had pictures of its car leak the day before its planned launch as it was a filming day on track.

In this edition of Paddock Pass, NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales recap the remaining cars revealed over the weekend.

Previous Paddock Pass editions from this week are below:

Testing continues this week with days two through four of the first test at Barcelona.

Alonso’s McLaren struggles on first day of F1 tests

MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 27: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MCL32 on track  during day one of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 27, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Troubled Formula One team McLaren has gotten off to a wretched start in preseason testing.

Fernando Alonso spent most of the first day waiting to get back out of the garage after his car broke down following just one lap at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday.

What the team identified as an “oil system” malfunction to its Honda-made engine kept the two-time world champion out of action until after the lunch break. Back behind the wheel, his 29 total laps was the lowest amount of the 11 drivers who participated.

Alonso also posted the second-slowest time, more than three seconds off the leading pace set by Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes. Only Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was slower.

“It’s disappointing,” Alonso said. “You work for three months and at the track on the installation lap something breaks down and you lose the day.”

This misstep is the latest technical hiccup to plague McLaren since it paired up with Honda.

One of F1’s most successful teams with eight constructor titles and 12 driver titles, the British outfit has struggled since it switched from Mercedes to the Japanese automaker before the 2015 season.

After earning just a combined 27 points from Alonso and Jenson Button in the first year with Honda, the team showed some growth last season with 76 points and two fifth-place finishes. But that is still a far cry from the glory days of the Woking-based team whose last race win was in Brazil in 2012.

For his part, Alonso hasn’t won a race since he claimed his 32nd victory back in 2013 at the Spanish Grand Prix while with Ferrari.

“It is fair to say that after the difficulties we had the last three seasons, it’s a nice temptation for the media,” Alonso said.

“From the point of view of the team, we are disappointed and sad to arrive to the first day of testing and not run.

“We are focused on what we have to do to make up the lost time. We know that we have four days for each driver and now one day is gone to prepare for the world championship.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, who has replaced Button, will get his turn for McLaren on Tuesday.

McLaren team chief Eric Boullier acknowledged that the relationship with Honda is far from perfect.

“It is like any marriage, you can have some ups and downs,” Boullier said. “We went through a lot of stress through the last couple of years, but we have a positive and constructive relationship and I don’t expect this to change in the future.”

The opening test will run through Thursday.

The track near Barcelona will host a second round of testing from March 7-10 before the season starts at the Australian GP on March 26.