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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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FIA clear Ferrari, Haas of wrongdoing on aero testing

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany  steers his car during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Formula One stewards have cleared Ferrari and 2016 entrant Haas of any breach of rules limiting aerodynamic testing.

Stewards at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had been asked by Mercedes to clarify the rules due to fears that teams were skirting regulations that limit time spent in wind-tunnel testing and other aerodynamic development.

Mercedes did not directly accuse any team, but the complaint related to the close ties between Ferrari and U.S. team Haas. Ferrari, as a current competitor, was subject to testing restrictions, but Haas was not, because it enters F1 next year.

Stewards ruled Sunday that there is “no evidence that competitors have not complied” with the rules, but did recommend to the sport’s governing body that future entrants be subject to the same restrictions as existing teams.

Hamilton: Mercedes surpassed all expectations in 2015

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 29:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP lifts his trophy on the podium after finishing second in the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 29, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton believes that the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team surpassed all expectations in 2015.

Mercedes entered the new season with a big task of emulating its feats from 2014 when it claimed 16 race wins and 18 pole positions as well as setting a new record for constructors’ championship points.

However, the W06 Hybrid car allowed Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg to reach such lofty heights once again, taking another 16 wins and 18 poles while beating last year’s constructors’ tally.

The team finished with 12 one-two finishes and scored 86% of all possible points, both new F1 records.

Speaking on the podium after finishing second in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton paid tribute to the Mercedes team following a season that also saw him claim a third drivers’ title.

“It’s been a good year. I’m happy,” Hamilton said. “I’m happy it’s over for sure, so now we can really enjoy it.

“Really have to take my hat off to the team who once again did an amazing job in building this car. The pit stop today, just the performance through the whole year, they’ve surpassed their own expectations and our expectations.

“We’ve truly shown that Mercedes-Benz is the best team in the world, so I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Hamilton spent much of Sunday’s race toiling behind Rosberg at the front of the field, and tried to get ahead of the German driver by running an alternative strategy in the closing stages of the race.

Mercedes warned Hamilton against trying a one-stop strategy as he requested, but the Briton thinks going as long as he did during his second stint without trying to go to the end was the wrong move.

“I think in hindsight once Nico had pitted I probably would have backed off a little bit and probably made those tires last a lot longer,” Hamilton said.

“The tires were still fine at the end, so I honestly felt I potentially could have taken them to the end.

“But if that didn’t work out, going too longer probably wasn’t the right thing to do, but we gave it a try and did the best job I could with it.”

Rosberg: New season can’t come soon enough

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Nico Rosberg says that the new Formula 1 season cannot come soon enough after capping off 2015 with a third consecutive victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Rosberg saw his hopes of winning a maiden world championship end in Austin, Texas last month as teammate Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his third title with three races to spare.

Since then, Rosberg has found a second wind to claim his first career hat-trick with victories in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the podium after his most recent success, Rosberg said that he was relishing the start of the new season and that it cannot come quickly enough given his momentum.

“Austin was a low point of the season, it was a tough weekend,” Rosberg said. “Since then I’ve just come back a lot stronger and I’m very happy about that.

“I’m excited about how the end of the season went, and next year can come any moment – it could start tomorrow for me, no problem, I don’t need any holidays!

“Anyway it’s great to end the season like this, go on holiday like this. Thank you so much, you’ve been awesome again this weekend for all your support and everything.

“Thanks to my team, absolutely stunning car you’ve all given me again today, unbelievable. I’m ecstatic.”

Rosberg struggled to compete with Hamilton for much of the year, but said that his recent successes were all the sweeter given the ability of his Mercedes stablemate.

“It’s always tough to race Lewis, he’s doing an awesome job and is one of the best out there,” Rosberg said.

“Even better feeling to win definitely against such opposition. It’s a great battle internally all of the time, and that’s what I race for, this battle. I look forward to more next year.”

Rosberg ends 2015 with third straight F1 win in Abu Dhabi

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Nico Rosberg rounded out the 2015 Formula 1 season with a third consecutive victory after seeing off the challenge of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Rosberg controlled proceedings from the front of the field, leading the majority of the race before coming under pressure in the closing stages after Mercedes switched Hamilton’s strategy so he could push hard on the final stint.

However, the three-time world champion was unable to bridge the gap, allowing Rosberg to claim a sixth win of the season and a third in a row to finish off a year that largely saw him struggle for form.

A poor start from Hamilton allowed Rosberg to retain his lead from pole position heading into the first corner, but the Briton managed to fend off Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez to hold on to second place. Rosberg was able to build on his good start, opening up a two second lead over Hamilton in the opening stages of the race before the first round of pit stops.

Further back, Fernando Alonso’s miserable 2015 season showed few signs of mercy even at the final race as he clashed with Pastor Maldonado at the first corner. The stewards deemed Alonso to be at fault, handing the Spaniard a drive-through penalty. The damage to Maldonado’s suspension was enough to end his race early.

There was further drama at the first round of pit stops when Williams released Valtteri Bottas into the path of Jenson Button, causing damage to the front of the Finn’s car. Bottas pitted again one lap later for repairs, and was duly hit with a time penalty for the unsafe release.

Mercedes had no such problems with its pit stops, but Hamilton was left scrambling for pace. A late push from Rosberg at the end of the first stint allowed him to create a five-second gap over Hamilton into which Sebastian Vettel – still yet to pit after starting on primes – dropped in to. Hamilton made light work of the Ferrari driver just three laps later, but the gap to Rosberg had already swelled to over six seconds.

Hamilton managed to work the gap down with a series of quick laps throughout the second stint of the race, though, piling the pressure on Rosberg at the front. The German’s led was halved in the space of a few laps as he struggled with graining on his tires and by the time he came in for a second time, the gap to Hamilton lay at just 1.3 seconds.

Rosberg was the first to pit once again, taking on another fresh set of primes on lap 31, but Mercedes opted to extend Hamilton’s stint before bringing him in. Rosberg was told to pick up the pace in reaction to this, closing the gap at the front so that he would be ahead once Hamilton made his final stop.

Just as he did in Brazil two weeks ago, Hamilton argued with Mercedes over strategy as he tried to get ahead of Rosberg once again. The Briton wanted to try and make a one-stop strategy work by going to the end, only to be told that this would be “impossible”.

All the while, Rosberg continued to close, giving him a lead of 12.5 seconds once Hamilton had pitted. Instead of putting on a set of options to make up for the longer second stint, Mercedes fitted another set of primes to Hamilton’s car, leaving him with the task of making up one second per lap in the final stages of the race.

It was one that Hamilton took in his stride, immediately laying down a quick pace on his fresh tires. Despite running 1.7 seconds per lap quicker than Rosberg at one point, Hamilton was unable to sustain this pace until the end and struggled with traffic, ending his hopes of victory in Abu Dhabi.

Instead it was Rosberg who crossed the line to take his third consecutive win and finish the 2015 season in style, beating Hamilton to the flag by 8.2 seconds.

Raikkonen rounded out the podium for Ferrari after enduring a rather lonely race, having been waved past Vettel due to their differing tire calls. Vettel managed to make his prime-prime-option strategy work perfectly to finish fourth, passing Perez in the closing stages to demote the Mexican to fifth.

Perez held on to finish fifth, two places ahead of Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg to cap off the team’s best-ever F1 season in style. Daniel Ricciardo split them in P6, while Felipe Massa followed eighth ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

Romain Grosjean’s last race for Lotus ended in style as he passed Carlos Sainz Jr. for the final points-paying position with just three laps to go. He was then able to pass Daniil Kvyat one lap later to secure ninth position, leaving the Russian to settle for P10 at the checkered flag.

Max Verstappen enjoyed an eventful race en route to P12, but was under investigation from the stewards when the flag fell after ignoring blue flags. They handed him a time penalty that ultimately dropped him to P16. Button and Bottas recovered from their earlier clash to finish 12th and 13th ahead of the Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.

Despite threatening to retire the car at one point, Fernando Alonso finished his race in 17th place two laps down on Rosberg. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi propped up the classification for Manor.