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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F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.