MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Joey Logano passed Matt Crafton entering the first turn at the start of a two-lap sprint to the finish and won an exciting NASCAR Truck race at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday.
The Daytona 500 champion won for the first time in the series to become the 26th driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s top series. The pole-sitter also kept a dominating weekend going. He will start on the pole in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, too.
Crafton, who led 100 laps while Logano led 150, figured he might be in trouble with the two-lap finish.
“I was honestly a little bit worried because it would take my truck four or five laps to get going, but all in all, not a bad day,” Crafton, the two-time defending series champion, said. “His shot was going to be getting down there in turn one and he lagged back just enough and got a good run on us. I felt that I had a decent restart there but man, I have no idea. He came like a shot out of a cannon right there and went by us.”
Logano wasn’t sure how much car he had left.
“I just had a good restart. Tires hooked up well,” he said. “I prepped them good down the back straightaway and made sure I had them clean enough. I had a good jump and then just drive it in there and hope for the best.”
The finish came after a wild near-ending in which 17-year-old Cole Custer slammed into the back of Crafton’s truck in the first turn with five laps to go, sending both Crafton and Logano wide while Custer darted underneath for the lead.
Custer, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr., was somewhat apologetic afterward, calling the hard hit an “accident.”
“I was going to punt him off two but I drove in too hard and I couldn’t stop so I hit him a little bit too hard,” Custer said, “but it worked so I knew he was going to come back and nudge me a little bit. He did it respectfully.
“I was giving him all I had to try and stay up there,” he said.
But it proved to be Custer’s last stand. On the ensuing lap, Crafton sent him spinning, and Custer wound up 16th.
Crafton hung on for second, followed by Erik Jones, Johnny Sauter and Tyler Reddick.
Jones ran in the top five all day and was poised to take advantage if the dueling up front presented an opportunity.
“Wish we had a shot at the win, but great day for us,” the rookie said. “Great points day.”
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