Starting 13th in a race that featured 12 cautions didn’t keep Matt Crafton from winning the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway for his fifth victory of the season.
It’s Crafton’s first win since July at Kentucky Speedway and comes after he ran out of gas in the final laps at Las Vegas while leading and crashed multiple times at Talladega.
“It’s been a very trying last two months,” Crafton told Fox Sports 1. “We weren’t that great on the short run and like I said I never give up on these guys, they just keep fine tuning and fine tuning.”
Crafton led the most laps at both Las Vegas and Talladega but couldn’t win. The two-time defending champion believes his truck wasn’t as good as the one that also started 13th in the spring race at Martinsville and led 100 laps before finishing second.
“I have no idea (how many) laps we led today but we led enough and led the right one,” Crafton said. “Finally we got to finish off what we started the last two weeks.”
Crafton trails Erik Jones by 10 points in the championship standings.
HOW MATT CRAFTON WON: Crafton battled his way to the front after starting 13th and led the final 63 laps.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer started from the pole and led 96 laps before being called for speeding on pit road. The JR Motorsports drivers fought his way from the back of the pack to finish third … John Hunter Nemechek started third and led twice for 32 laps before finishing second for his sixth top five of the season.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: It started early for Timothy Peters. The Talladega winner spun on his own in Turn 4 on Lap 8. On Lap 85, Peters fell off the pace on the frontstretch after accidentally hitting his kill switch and was spun by Dalton Sargeant in Turn 1. Sargeant again spun Peters on Lap 155 in Turn 4. Peters finished sixth … The second caution of the day came when Gray Gaulding spun Paige Decker in Turn 3 on Lap 61 … Lap 73 saw Erik Jones spin teammate Daniel Suarez in Turn 4 while running in seventh. Suarez would finish 16th … JJ Haley lost the brakes on his truck on Lap 121 and slammed into the Turn 1 wall. Haley finished last … On Lap 132, John Wes Townley lost his left-rear tire exiting Turn 2. The Las Vegas winner didn’t have any notable damage but finished 11th… Ray Black Jr. brought out the ninth caution with 29 laps left when he spun into the outside wall out of Turn 2 … Austin Cindric’s Truck debut ended in the wall with seven laps to go after he got stuck between two trucks, including points leader Erik Jones. Cindric finished 25th, the last driver on the lead lap.
NOTABLE: 12 cautions over 69 laps means more than 1/4th of the race was run under caution.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I knew I had to pace myself and save enough tires there at the end of the race so I could have some green-white-checkered speed there at the end, because we know that’s what it’s going to be about here.” Matt Crafton after leading the final 63 laps to win at Martinsville.
WHAT’S NEXT: WinStar World Casino 350k at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6 at 8:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.