Martinsville, VA (Sports Network) - Mike Skinner held off three-time series
champion Jack Sprague over the final 60 laps and captured Saturday's Kroger
200 Craftsman Truck Series race at the Martinsville Speedway. The No.5 Toyota
crossed the finish line two lengths ahead of Sprague.
The victory was Skinner's fifth of the season and 24th of his truck career.
"For us to get the sweep at Martinsville is pretty awesome," said Skinner.
Sprague brought the 36-truck field to the green flag for 200 laps of short
track racing. Sprague quickly built his lead to five lengths after just 10
laps. By lap 24 the margin was up to 1.118 seconds and still climbing, at
least until the first caution flag.
Sprague elected to pit on the first caution flag and came out third behind two
drivers who didn't come in for fuel. Terry Cook and Scott Lynch took the
restart in first and second, respectively.
However, Lynch got spun just a couple of laps later and Sprague was up to
second place. They restarted on lap 41 and Sprague took a quick look to the
inside, but got back into line behind Cook.
On lap 53, points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. was knocked towards the inside wall,
but he managed to save it and only lose a couple of positions. Meanwhile,
Skinner was moving towards the front passing Travis Kvapil for third place.
Johnny Benson and Regan Smith brought out the fourth caution flag of the
afternoon to slow the race on lap 64.
Cook, who apparently was not planning on making any stops, was still the
leader as the field passed the 100-lap mark.
Just past that point, Sprague began to pressure Cook. And Skinner was right
behind Sprague and beginning to pressure the second-place car. But just as it
was getting interesting, Dario Franchitti was spun by Dennis Setzer to bring
out a caution flag.
They restarted on lap 116 and Cook, Sprague and Skinner got a great jump on
the field. Sprague got underneath Cook on lap 120 and when they got back to
the stripe in was Sprague back in the lead, but seconds earlier another
caution flag had come out negating the pass.
On lap 136 Skinner slipped underneath Sprague for second place just as Sprague
was knocking Cook out of the way to take the lead. Cook fell all the way to
"When Jack and Terry got together...it opened the door for me," said Skinner.
With 60 laps to go it was Skinner, Sprague, Rick Crawford and Matt Crafton.
The restart came with 44 laps to go and off went Skinner, at least until
Jacques Villeneuve was sent into the wall, hard, by Clint Bowyer and Jason
Leffler to bring out another yellow flag. More caution flags slowed the race,
one involving Kyle Busch and Cook.
Finally with about 30 laps to go we got to see some green flag laps. Five laps
anyway, before Travis Dassow spun. It took a while to clean the track of oil
and the race restarted with 10 laps remaining. Just three laps later, the red
flag came after a multi-truck crash on the frontstretch.
The green flag dropped for the final time with three laps to go. Skinner held
off Sprague, but Hornaday Jr. made another patented great restart and jumped
from fourth to third as they saw the white flag.
Skinner maintained his lead on Sprague, but the big battle was between Crafton
and Hornaday Jr. The No.33 Chevy took the outside line, kept his foot on the
pedal and grabbed third place on the final lap.
Skinner's win gives him an 11-point lead over Hornaday Jr. (3,383 - 3,372)
heading to next Saturday's race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.