Starr of day at Craftsman Truck Series

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) – David Starr held the lead through eight restarts over the final 121 laps Saturday to win for the fourth time in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Starr drove the last 185 laps on the same tank of fuel and tires, and had little trouble holding off Ted Musgrave in the final eight-lap green flag run to the finish in the Kroger 250.

“I would have never thought we could run that long on a set of tires,” Starr said.

It was the second consecutive truck race at Martinsville Speedway that set records for cautions.

The final restart came after the 16th caution pushed the number of laps run under yellow to 87, breaking the track records of 15 cautions for 83 laps set last fall. The 16 cautions set a record for the series at any venue.

Musgrave finished second – 0.942 seconds back – to give Toyota the top two spots and give Musgrave four top-five runs in four races in the series this year. Matt Crafton was third in a Chevrolet after holding off Mark Martin.

The victory was Starr’s first in the truck series since November 2004 at Phoenix.

“Man, I’m so excited I can’t stand it,” he said after getting doused with Gatorade in Victory Lane. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t quit waving this flag right here.”

The victory boosted Starr eight spots to fifth in the points standings, and allowed him to show his Red Horse Racing team that his request for patience would pay off.

“We struggled the first three races, and I told them bear with me, that I’d catch up,” he said. “We had good trucks but the driver just wasn’t up to speed yet.”

Martin, who won two of the first three races, remained the points leader. He leads Musgrave by 55 points with Todd Bodine, who ran 12th, just three more points back.

Martin blamed a set-up miscalculation for his inability to get up front, and he drove on Crafton’s back bumper for the better part of 50 laps trying to move up.

“I moved him around a little bit on the last lap, but for third place, I didn’t want to mess him up,” the veteran said. “He was doing what I would have done.”

The caution-filled race did nothing to douse his exuberance for the series.

“This Craftsman Truck Series is the best racing in NASCAR, man,” he said.

Crafton said he trusted that Martin, reputed to be among the cleanest drivers ever to race, would battle him fairly, and was relieved his confidence was justified.

“I knew he wasn’t going to take me out,” Crafton said.

The race was red-flagged for almost 8 minutes on the 199th lap after the Ford of David Ragan apparently blew an engine and left oil on the back stretch and on pit road.

By then, there had already been 14 cautions for 69 laps.

AP-ES-04-01-06 1853EST

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