Ryan Blaney, “Bubba” Wallace top Truck Series practices at Martinsville

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Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title contenders led the way during today’s practice sessions at Martinsville Speedway.

Ryan Blaney (second in points, -16 behind Matt Crafton) posted a lap of 19.894 seconds to lead Practice 1, while Darrell Wallace Jr. (third in points, -28 behind) was fastest in Practice 2 with a lap of 19.748 seconds.

Both of them are chasing points leader Crafton in the standings. Crafton was seventh in the first session (19.995 seconds) and then P2 in the second session (19.752 seconds) in his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota.

In Practice 1, Blaney was followed on the time sheets by Gray Gaulding, Brandon Jones, Austin Hill, and Johnny Sauter. Wallace eclipsed Crafton, Erik Jones, Cole Custer, and Timothy Peters in Practice 2.

After winning last fall at Martinsville for the first time in a NASCAR national series event, Wallace is hoping that he’ll be P1 again in Saturday’s Kroger 200.

But it’s not just the matter of repeating on the tough half-mile that motivates him this weekend. Wallace, along with Sprint Cup driver David Ragan, is honoring the upcoming induction of Wendell Scott into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

As part of the tribute, Wallace has flipped numbers for this race from No. 54 to Scott’s No. 34. Additionally, his Toyota has taken on the paint scheme that Scott drove to victory on Dec. 1, 1963 to become the first African-American winner in a NASCAR premier series.

“Martinsville is a track I have run well on and will always be special to me since I got my first win there last year,” Wallace said this week. “Anytime you mention Martinsville, I get excited. Jerry [Baxter, crew chief] and the guys have worked really hard to give me the best Toyota Tundra, and I know if we unload with the same speed we have the last few races, we will be just fine.

“It’s time to get us another win and another Grandfather clock.”

Meanwhile, Crafton is hoping to sweep both Martinsville races this season and strengthen his grip on what could be a second consecutive Truck Series title.

After finishing 14th at Talladega last weekend, Crafton expects to have to fight to survive once again on the Paperclip.

“Unlike Talladega, the driver can make a difference there – it’s just good short track racing,” he said this week. “We saw some success there earlier this year and I look forward to continuing that success this weekend.

“Unfortunately, Martinsville is just like the superspeedways, you have to survive it. We didn’t have a great finish last weekend, but we lost minimal points. If we can have a good run this weekend, we should be in good shape for the final three.”

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.