In looking at how things were boiling down for the start of the Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway this afternoon, everybody knew it'd be a battle between Ron Hornaday, Kyle Busch, Todd Bodine and Kevin Harvick.
At the beginning, it'd look to be Busch's race to lose as he led. However, when strategy started taking place, it began changing from one person to the other.
Todd Bodine pitted early due to starting near the back, and then when the leaders pitted, he was able to gain track position and get to the lead.
Bodine led from gaining that spot up front till Kyle Busch caught him and passed him.
Though with less than 20 to go, Hornaday took charge on a late race restart and took the lead the hard way—on the outside—and never looked back.
"I got tears in my eyes," Hornaday said in victory lane. "This is so cool. I hate to be a baby. There's a lot of people that have got thing going on. Shane Hmiel, Todd's mom, it's just emotional. Harvick said this paint scheme was unbeatable and we kept it going."
This marked Hornaday's first win at Martinsville, despite being the king of the short tracks in the Camping World Truck Series. This also marked the first time that the famed grandfather clock was given for a race less than 250 laps.
"This is Martinsville—I won it," Hornaday said. "I got a grandfather clock."
This marks a highlight in a season that some would call a disappointment for Hornaday, as the four-time champ currently is outside the race for the championship. Rumors began that possibly, Hornaday would be leaving Kevin Harvick Incorporated, though with new crew chief Butch Hilton, those rumors look to be disappearing.
"It's so cool to have Kevin and Delana have the confidence in me and give me Butch and the guys to do this." Hornaday said.
"To have Butch and the guys get Ron Hornaday in this victory lane at Martinsville is pretty cool." Kevin Harvick added.
Busch ended up second, leaving him yet again without a win at the Martinsville paperclip.
"I gave it all I had," Busch said. "The truck wasn't as good as the KHI trucks all day."
While Bodine has the driver's championship pretty much locked up, the battle for the owner's championship is heating up. Coming into the race, the No. 30 of Germain Racing, driven by Bodine, led the No. 18 of Kyle Busch Motorsports, driven by Busch, by 36 points. Bodine finished third, though there was no points change as Bodine led the most laps.
"This is how you win championships," Bodine said after the race, competing just hours after the death of his mother. "We didn't have the best truck, but we got third."
Bodine and Busch look to battle it out to the end as they've already had their run-ins, including a conversation following Bodine's win at Kentucky this year. Martinsville was no exception to their battle as they fought hard side-by-side, and at one point, Bodine was accused of trying to fool Busch on a restart.
"If they think I was trying to do a slow restart to fool Kyle Busch, they are wrong," Bodine said on the radio at that time. "I just didn't get a good restart. Message delivered—I'll work on it."
Kevin Harvick, who won the spring race at Martinsville, finished 15th after an eventful day that included run-ins with multiple drivers. The run-in that caused the most discussion would be Harvick vs. the Red Horse Racing drivers, Timothy Peters and Justin Lofton.
Battling side-by-side, Peters and Harvick made contact multiple times, which resulted in Harvick cutting a left rear tire down. Harvick then spun out and tried to get the car re-fired while Johnny Sauter got wrecked at the other end of the track, bringing out the caution.
NASCAR deemed that Harvick was part of the reason for the caution, not allowing him to get the lucky dog (giving him his lap back) as he had fallen a lap down in the process. Some could say this changed the entire outcome, as it put Harvick back and made the hole bigger. Had Sauter not spun, there would've been no caution as Harvick wasn't in the way.
Once Harvick got back on the lead lap with approximately 15 to go, he then tried to mount his charge, yet ended up running into issues with Lofton. Lofton made contact with Harvick, causing further damage to Harvick's truck, during a wreck that started with Sauter and Lofton. Emotions were displayed after the race as Harvick drove up the back bumper of Lofton's truck on pit road.
Though while we're here, Sauter should be warned for his actions as instead of answering the black flag and coming down pit road to get the loose sheet metal removed, Sauter brake-checked Lofton down the backstretch, causing a bunch of other drivers to wreck in the corner and a caution.
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