RIDGEWAY, Va. — Chase Elliott was the fastest man early and the luckiest man late on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, taking advantage of a late scuffle at the front of the field to score the win in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250.
Elliott lead the first 75 laps from the pole, but was shuffled back by pit strategy and had to work his way forward over the course of the final 110-lap stage.
Ultimately, he was in the right place at the right time when Austin Cindric and then-leader Christopher Bell got together in turn one, sending Cindric spinning and allowing Elliott to sneak through on the inside as Bell slowed to regain control of his Toyota.
The Dawsonville, Ga. native then held off teammate Johnny Sauter on the race’s final restart with 12 laps left, driving away to a 1.8-second victory at the checkered flag.
Elliott’s win was his second in the Truck Series and first since 2013 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
“I’ll be honest, that was not a lot of fun today,” Elliott admitted in victory lane. “I definitely had some help there with Christopher’s misfortune. I was trying all I could to get by him. He was doing a really good job of maintaining my bumper and me hitting him.”
“Man, I’m just really proud of this group. It was a hard-fought battle for sure. I appreciate everyone on this GMS Racing team and Allegiant Travel for letting me drive these couple races this year and I hope it helps for tomorrow. That’s the main thing.”
Saturday’s result also erased the sting of a near-miss for Elliott in last fall’s Martinsville Truck race, when he ran second to Sauter after charging forward in the final laps.
“To run second here in the fall to Johnny and being able to race him again for the win today was pretty cool. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t think that what we did today in the Truck honestly translates real well to the Cup race tomorrow … I really don’t, but I’m glad to win one of these clocks. It’s a cool trophy … really special.”
Sauter, who led 62 straight laps during stage two and won that stage, restarted 12th to kick off the final stage after pitting for tires and drove through the field to end up second and give GMS Racing a one-two punch.
Behind the defending Truck champion, Bell hung on to a Toyota that was pancaked on the right side and fading in the final laps to finish third, but lamented what could have been after the contact with Cindric, who was fighting to stay on the lead lap at the time.
“I ran into the back of him in (turns) three and four and he slid all the way off the bottom to the fence off of the corner … so I figured I’d be able to shove my nose and get underneath him, but he decided to go down to the bottom with me and I got trapped there.”
“Third isn’t what we wanted, but overall, it was a really good day for us and it’s something for us to build off on for when we come back here in the fall. It doesn’t take away the sting of losing one like that, though. It still hurts pretty bad.”
Rookie Noah Gragson finished fourth after battling with the leaders for much of the final 75 laps, followed by Ty Dillon.
Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton and Ryan Truex completed the top 10.
In all, the race only featured four lead changes, but on-track calamity led to 10 cautions for a total of 63 laps.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on May 12 at Kansas Speedway, with the running of the Toyota Tundra 250.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…