Chase Elliott Avoids Late-Race Calamity To Win At Martinsville Speedwayby Camille Jones April 1, 2017
RIDGEWAY, Va.– The hard-charging competitors of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series were beating and banging over the course of 250 laps in Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 before Chase Elliott captured his first win at Martinsville Speedway.
Elliott, the driver of the No. 23 Allegiant Airlines/NAPA Chevrolet was strong early in Saturday’s race after starting on the pole. While running second, Chase Elliott was able to slide by Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 4 JBL Toyota on lap 234 for the final lead change of the afternoon.
Elliott said, “Even having a great shot today, had a little help from our friends here in the latter stages of the race to give us the lead back, regardless, I had a fast truck, but I still think that there are a couple of things that I’m not doing fundamentally correctly for tomorrow.”
Bell was caught up by lapped traffic when he attempted to put Austin Cindric in the No. 19 LTi Printing Ford a lap down. Unwilling to lose a lap, Cindric blocked Bell who was the leader. Bell put his nose to the rear bumper of the No. 19 truck and attempted to send him spinning, but he was caught up in a collision with Cindric. Bell ended up losing the lead and fell to third behind Elliott and Johnny Sauter in the No. 21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet. On the final restart with just 12 laps remaining, Elliott was able to hold off a competitive Sauter and Bell to pull away with a lead of over a second to take home the win.
“We were in really heavy lap traffic and obviously both the GMS trucks were really fast,” Bell said. “But I felt like our truck was able to maintain and we were strong enough that we were going to be able to hold on there and getting through lap traffic, got to the 19 (Austin Cindric), got into the back of him in (turns) three and four and then he got all the way up the race track off of four all the way to the wall. At that point I had went down to try and get underneath him getting into (turn) one and he decided he was going to go down with me.”
Sauter finished in the second position on Saturday. He led 62 laps on his way to capturing his second top-10 finish of the season. Sauter leads the championship standings by four points over Christopher Bell, who finished third on Saturday.
Bell was able to overcome the slight damage to his truck to cruise to a third-place finish at the half-mile short track. He was unable to return to the lead, but led 96 laps over the course of the 250-lap race.
Rookie Noah Gragson captured the fourth-place finish, while Ty Dillon finished in the fifth position. Gragson was the highest-finishing rookie in the race.
The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 was made up of three stages. Stages 1 and 2 were 70 laps each, while Stage 3 was 110 laps. Elliott won Stage 1, while Sauter won Stage 2. The race winner, Elliott, was the Stage 3 winner.
There were ten cautions for a total of 63 laps on Saturday.
The series returns to competition under the lights on Friday, May 12 at Kansas Speedway for the Toyota Tundra 250. Live race coverage will be found on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com