Kyle Busch is halfway leader at Martinsville, Kenseth second; Hamlin wrecks

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After never having won there before Saturday, Kyle Busch is now halfway to sweeping the weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch, who won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series on the half-mile bullring is in the lead at the halfway point (250 laps) of the 500-lap STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, is running second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson.

Busch has led the most laps (114), followed by Harvick (72 laps).

On Lap 5, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was spun by David Ragan but was able to recover and get back into the mix. Earnhardt is running 18th at the halfway point.

On Lap 221, another of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, Denny Hamlin, had a hard hit into the Turn 1 wall and suffered extensive damage to the right front of his car. The five-time winner and defending champion of last year’s spring race at Martinsville has been declared out of the race and in 39th position. It’s Hamlin’s worst career finish (21 starts) at one of his most successful tracks.

Aric Almirola was beset early by motor problems and his day is done, scored last in the 40-car starting field.

“We had a part failure with a part that typically doesn’t break, so I’m not sure,” Almirola said. “Doug (engine builder Doug Yates) will go back and investigate it and I’m sure they’ll figure something out so it won’t ever happen again. It was a disappointing end to our day. We had an okay STP Ford Fusion. We were making it better and were probably a 15th place car.  Walking out of the track now, I certainly would have taken a 15th place finish because this is gonna put us in a pretty big hole.”

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