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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Mercedes continuing to explore Formula E, October deadline on entry

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GENEVA, Switzerland – Mercedes has until October to make a final decision on entering the FIA Formula E championship and activating its option for a place on the grid in season five, when it would have to be a customer team.

Mercedes announced last October that it had secured an option on a place in Formula E from season five, becoming the latest manufacturer to express its serious interest in the all-electric series.

No updates have been forthcoming from Mercedes regarding its Formula E interest since then, although a number of personnel are understood to have attended the recent Berlin race as it continues to evaluate the series.

When asked by NBC Sports about Mercedes’ Formula E plans at the FIA Sport Conference in Geneva earlier this week, head of Mercedes-Benz motorsport Toto Wolff confirmed that an evaluation was still ongoing ahead of an October deadline to trigger its option.

“We are exploring Formula E at the moment and try to form an educated opinion,” Wolff said.

“It is something that is very different, although I think they’ve done a great job in establishing the series in a couple of years only.

“We are in a fact-finding moment and we will make up our mind until October.”

Mercedes missed the deadline to join Formula E in season five (2018/19) as a manufacturer, with nine companies being listed by the series back in March.

Should Mercedes want to enter Formula E in season five, it would have to do so as a customer team, enjoying a powertrain supply from another manufacturer.

“The rules are what they are. If we decide to enter Formula E, we will be a customer team in season five,” Wolff said.

“There’d be no other solution.”

Verstappen quickest in opening Azerbaijan GP practice

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Max Verstappen led Red Bull Racing to a one-two finish in the opening Formula 1 practice session ahead of this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, finishing half a second clear of teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the top of the FP1 standings.

Verstappen and Ricciardo were able to make the most of low grip conditions at the Baku City Circuit through first practice, with a number of their rivals finding things more difficult and struggling to keep their cars on-track.

Verstappen recorded a fastest lap time of 1:44.410 in the Red Bull RB13 to take P1 overall, finishing four-tenths of a second clear of Ricciardo.

Sebastian Vettel took third place for Ferrari, half a second down on Verstappen at the front after squeezing a late lap in before a red flag stoppage in the closing stages of the session.

FP1 was halted when Sergio Perez became the first driver to crash at the tight Turn 8 section, carrying too much speed into the corner and clouting the barrier with his Force India car.

Despite the shunt, Perez ended the session fourth ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who failed to challenge the front-runners at the head of the field, finishing over a second behind Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas was sixth in the second Mercedes ahead of Esteban Ocon and Felipe Massa, with Kimi Raikkonen and Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top 10.

Second practice in Baku begins at 9am ET live on the NBC Sports app before being re-aired on NBCSN at 2pm ET.

Road America weekend, Thursday notes

Brett Hundley with Will Power and Mario Andretti. Photo: IndyCar
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – It’s a busy day of testing, practice and qualifying for all the series not named the Verizon IndyCar Series on Thursday at the KOHLER Grand Prix weekend.

IndyCar sessions begin on Friday and as such there wasn’t meant to be as much to report on that end… until late Thursday afternoon when Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed Mikhail Aleshin’s temporary absence and Robert Wickens to fill in.

Meanwhile with Esteban Gutierrez having been confirmed for the rest of the season at Dale Coyne Racing, it’s anticipated he will have his first oval test next week at Iowa Speedway, to have his first running on an oval ahead of the July 9 Iowa Corn 300.

Here’s a couple other IndyCar notes…

DIXON’S SURPRISE TO A YOUNG FAN

Advance Auto Parts IndyCar Radio Network reporter Jake Query, who will also be hosting this weekend’s Indy Lights coverage from Road America on NBCSN, found a fan letter from a young girl named Lucy addressed to INDYCAR after Scott Dixon’s wild ride at the Indianapolis 500. Lucy proceeded to thank INDYCAR for its safety efforts in keeping Dixon intact.

Well, between the efforts of Query and the IndyCar PR staff, a meeting between the two was arranged. You can see the video of that, below.

PACKERS QB TAKES A RIDE WITH MARIO

Not that Packers QB though.

Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley had a ride today with Mario Andretti in Honda’s Fastest Seat in Sports, the two-seat IndyCar. He posted on it below.

Elsewhere, here is a bit more from the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires and Pirelli World Challenge ranks.

MRTI

  • First practice is in the books for USF2000 and rather than Oliver Askew being on top for Cape Motorsports, it was actually the Pabst Racing team that went 1-2-3 with Dutchman Rinus VeeKay ahead of Guyana driver Calvin Ming and Brazilian Lucas Kohl. Not bad for Augie Pabst’s Oconomowoc, Wis.-based team. Askew was fourth, and David Malukas was an impressive fifth. Full results are here.
  • In first qualifying for Pro Mazda, Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni took the pole with a best time of 2:06.5835, ahead of Cape Motorsports’ Anthony Martin at 2:07.9055. Team Pelfrey’s trio of Carlos Cunha, TJ Fischer and Nikita Lastochkin completed the top five. Full results are here.
  • Overall, the USF2000 field grows by one from the projected 18 up to 19 with F4 driver Jacob Loomis moving up to Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 Tatuus USF-17 Mazda, filling in for Ayla Agren. Agren’s full-season teammates Robert Megennis and Kaylen Frederick paid tribute to Agren, who is still here this weekend, with tribute cool shirts.
  • Meanwhile the Pro Mazda field dips by two. Neither Phillippe Denes, who was seventh in points heading into the weekend, nor Kevin Davis is here. It leaves the field at 15 cars, including series debutantes Kris Wright (who has tested with JDC Motorsports), Dave Zavelson and Kevin Bury. Zavelson’s car number switches from 4, listed initially, to 2.
  • Max Hanratty, who returns, has a new livery on his No. 6 ArmsUp Motorsports entry.
  • Anthony Martin is confident any issues with his Cape Motorsports Pro Mazda car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course have been sorted. The Australian proved that point by leading the opening practice session with a best time of 2:13.1661 in mixed conditions. Full times from that are linked here.
  • The reduced USF2000 field sees a couple drivers here who may be back later this year but others who may be done for the year. Agren, out at Team Pelfrey this weekend, is here and working towards a return later this season. Her past teammate at Pelfrey, Luke Gabin, is also here and is unsure whether he’ll be back in action for Exclusive Autosport.
  • Meanwhile Darren Keane, who makes his debut with Newman Wachs Racing in USF2000 this weekend, is expected to return to the team for remaining races. He’ll miss Iowa Speedway but plans to return at Mid-Ohio. Ozz Negri coaches Keane in USF2000; Tom Dyer, another Acura NSX GT3 driver, coaches the Pelfrey USF2000 drivers.

PWC

  • The PWC grid drops by a couple this week with a couple changes in the GT and GTA ranks. Bentley Team Absolute is down to one car with Yufeng Luo not here in his No. 78 Bentley Continental GT3, leaving only Adderly Fong. Fong, however, will miss the Mid-Ohio weekend owing to a schedule clash with the China GT Championship. Pablo Perez Companc, who was also due to race in GTA in the No. 69 Mercedes-AMG GT3, is another no-show this weekend.
  • K-PAX Racing has eclipsed the 100-podium plateau in recent rounds. The team’s three-car lineup resumes this weekend with Alvaro Parente, Bryan Sellers and Mike Hedlund, Parente and Hedlund having just returned from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Austin Versteeg makes his debut in the GTS class No. 13 ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4, a car that’s won this season in the hands of Nico Jamin. Jamin is here this weekend in his Andretti Autosport Indy Lights car.
  • PWC had several test and practice sessions during the day.

Wickens set to substitute for Aleshin until further notice at Road America

Photo: IndyCar
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Robert Wickens will temporarily fill in for Mikhail Aleshin at this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team released a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming Aleshin’s absence for at least Friday owing to immigration issues, with that potentially set to stretch into the remainder of the weekend if the situation is not resolved.

The statement is below.

Hinchcliffe has also posted a tweet going into the weekend. The two participated in a ride-swap earlier this year where Wickens made his IndyCar test debut at Sebring (recap here) and Hinchcliffe ran in Wickens’ DTM car in Italy after the St. Petersburg opener (recap here).

The two drivers were teammates in A1 Grand Prix about a decade ago; Wickens has race experience at Road America as he finished seventh in a Formula Atlantic race in 2007. Hinchcliffe was 14th in the same race.

Beyond his DTM commitments, Wickens raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Starworks Motorsport, and ran 100 laps during the week in a PC class Oreca FLM09 he shared with a handful of others. Conor Daly and Sean Rayhall were among the notables in the other car.