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Gragson takes Martinsville truck race; H. Burton finishes fourth

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Top, Jeb Burton had a DNF in Saturday truck race at Martinsville, while Harrison Burton, above, finished fourth. / October 30, 2017

At the end of Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville, it appeared the final laps might come down to a late race duel between veterans Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

But Noah Gragson had other ideas.

Grayson executed a nearly flawless restart on a ten-lap shootout, and sprinted to his first career win in the series at the paperclip.

Harrison Burton ran well finishing fourth.

Gragson averaged 67.9 mph and beat Crafton by 1.486 seconds. Sauter was third, followed by Burton and Todd Gilliland in the top five.

Jeb Burton posted a DNF, taking a 21st place finish. Burton finished 174 laps and was out with a rear gear issue.

“This is awesome,” the 19-year-old Gragson said at the start/finish line.

“We were driving up here and we were talking about how much history is at this track. It’s so cool to be out here racing with Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, and the rest of the field. I’ve proven to myself that I have the capability to race with them, and have that opportunity to come here is a privilege.”

Crafton, who won Saturday’s opening stage, and chose the bottom lane on the race’s final restart, before Gragson strong-armed him around the outside and made it stick to create yet another memorable Martinsville Speedway race-winning moment. After the checkered flag, Crafton was left lamenting the runner-up finish, with productive points day being no comfort.

“It just sucks,” he said. “We’ve given away two races away while leading late here. Honestly, I don’t even care [about earned stage points] in this race. It just sucks finishing second.”

Sauter appeared poised as the favorite to earn his second straight playoff victory at NASCAR’s oldest track until a slow pit stop at the end of Stage 2 sent him tumbling seven positions down the running order, costing valuable track position in the process.

“We had a good day, but just didn’t execute when we needed to. I just know [the pit stop] was slow. Track position is king. You’ve got to have clean air, and you can’t give up anything. When you give up seven spots, it’s pretty tough to overcome.”

John Hunter Nemechek, who entered Saturday’s race fourth in points, suffered a brake failure and made heavy contact with the outside wall in turn two on Lap 39.

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