Chase Elliott Wins Intense Truck Race at Martinsville
by Tucker White On Sat, Apr. 01, 2017
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Chase Elliott was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a late race spin and drive away from Johnny Sauter to score the victory at Martinsville Speedway.
The final stage was largely controlled by Christopher Bell until he made contact with Austin Cindric with less than 20 laps to go. Elliott, who was running in second, drove under him to assume the lead. He powered away from Sauter on the final restart to notch the win.
“It was fun today,” Elliott said after the race. “I had some help there with Christopher’s misfortune. I was trying all I could to get by him. He was doing a really good job of maintaining my bumper, a good job with me hitting him. His bumper was getting progressively more blue (the color of Elliott’s car) as the day went.
“It was a hard-fought battle, for sure.”
Bell, Noah Gragson and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five. Gragson was the Sunoco Rookie of the Race.
Elliott led from start to finish in the first stage. But it didn’t come easy as teammate Sauter caught him, thanks to lapped traffic around lap 45, and pressured him for the lead until the caution flew for the end of the stage.
Bell exited pit road with the race lead, thanks to taking two tires, but lost it two laps after the restart to Sauter, who went on to win the stage.
He lost the lead under the caution to Bell, who led from lap 144 to 17 to go when he made contact with Cindric, setting up the final restart.
It was a typical caution-loaded race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Bryce Napier (lap 8) and John Hunter Nemechek (lap 118) blew engines during the race. Cody Coughlin made contact with Joe Nemechek in Turn 3 on lap 13 and both spun out. Ryan Truex turned Brandon Brown in Turn 4 on lap 91. Chase Briscoe and Gragson were involved in an incident that led to Gragson spinning out in Turn 2 on lap 101. Elliott sent Ross Chastain spinning in Turn 4 on lap 124. Kaz Grala made contact with Kyle Donahue, who clipped Briscoe and turned him in Turn 2 with 92 to go. Austin Hill made contact with Grala, who got into Harrison Burton and spun him in Turn 4 with 76 to go. Finally, Bell made contact with Cindric in Turn 1 with 17 to go.
The race lasted two hours, one minute and 38 seconds at an average speed of 64.867 mph. There were 10 cautions for 63 laps and four lead changes among three different drivers.
Sauter leaves Martinsville with a four-point lead over Bell.Martinsville NCWTS race report T1703_UNOFFRES