Setzer holds on through restarts to win Kroger 250 at Martinsville

Updated: April 2, 2008, 11:28 AM ET
Associated Press

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Dennis Setzer assumed the lead when Kyle Busch had to brake to avoid a crash in front of him Saturday, then held on through numerous restarts to win the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The victory was the first for Dodge since the late Bobby Hamilton won at Mansfield in 2005, and the truck Setzer won in is co-owned by Hamilton's widow, Lori.

[+] EnlargeDennis Setzer
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesDennis Setzer grabbed his 18th career victory in the Craftsman Truck Series and third at Martinsville Speedway.

"The emotions are running high right now," Lori Hamilton said. "We always said after Bobby passed away that if we could build it, then we'd do it in honor of him."

For Setzer, winning at a track where he and Hamilton dueled also was special.

"I ran second to Bobby the year he won the championship," Setzer said. "We fought like heck all year as far as racing goes, but we were probably as good of friends off the track. We never had a harsh word with each other any time during the year."

The race, run on a cold, overcast day after the teams practiced in heat and sunshine Friday, was dominated by 15 cautions that slowed the pace for 82 laps, and caused the race to go three extra laps for a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag.

Even before the finish, teams were carefully calculating whether they had enough fuel to finish, and Mike Skinner's team miscalculated. He was running third and working hard to hold off Busch when he ran out of gas and got spun by Busch on the 247th lap.

"I worked really hard on saving some fuel," Setzer said.

The restarts forced Setzer to repeatedly outrun Brendan Gaughan and then Johnny Benson, which Setzer did with ease. On the final lap, with Setzer's victory already secure, Busch was dueling Benson for second when Busch's truck started to spin in turn three, nudged Benson's and both went around as Matt Crafton and Rick Crawford sailed past.

Crafton finished second, followed by Crawford, Ken Schrader and Erik Darnell.

"That was real wild," said Crafton, whose best previous finish was third.

"It was wild from my point of view, too," Crawford said. "I'm going to be the first to say that I hate to take this third and be satisfied and go home, but it was quite a day. ... I threaded the needle, made some bold moves and finished third."

Busch, who had won two of three series races this year and had one of the best trucks, wound up 26th but remained the points leader, while Benson finished 25th.

It was Setzer's 18th career victory in the series and third at Martinsville.

Setzer took the lead on lap 128 when Brent Raymer's truck spun for the second time coming out of turn four, forcing Busch to hit the brakes to avoid being collected. He also pitted for tires and fuel and was running 23rd when he got back on the track.

Busch's teammate, Denny Hamlin, also had a strong truck and led 64 laps, but he pitted while leading after just over 100 laps and later spun and finished 21st.

The race also marked the series debut of Chrissy Wallace, 19-year-old daughter of NASCAR veteran Mike Wallace. She started 35th in the 36-truck field and finished 18th.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press