After nearly a month off from competition, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will gear up for action on the half-mile paperclip of Martinsville Speedway for the Alpha Energy Solutions 250.
The Truckers have only run two races so far this season, and both were won by young drivers. Martinsville is a tough track, and it usually favors series veterans like Johnny Sauter, who won the last Martinsville race. Sauter, the defending series champion, has two other wins at the track, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets his fourth grandfather clock on Saturday.
The last time Trucks were on the track was at Atlanta Motor Speedway when Christopher Bell swept all three stages, and won his third career race. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver will look to do the same thing when he takes to Martinsville. In two races at the Virginia track, Bell has mixed results. He finished 19th in his first outing last spring, and fourth in the fall race. Bell will be looking for his race to end up more like the fall, with a finish just a few spots higher.
At 22 years old, Bell is the most senior driver at KBM this weekend. Rookie Noah Gragson will run his first Martinsville race this weekend, while Harrison Burton, son of retired driver Jeff Burton, will return to the site of his Truck Series debut. The 16-year-old showed flashes of speed at Martinsville last year, but hopes to improve on a 22nd place finish.
When talking about possible race winners in the Truck Series, it’s impossible not to add Matt Crafton into the conversation. The 13-time winner came close to scoring his 14th win at Atlanta, but instead finished second to Bell. It’s no doubt the ThorSport Racing driver is hungry to win his third grandfather clock after last winning at Martinsville in 2015.
While series regulars will do their best to win on Saturday, a pair of full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers aim to get their first Martinsville victory ahead of Sunday’s main event. Chase Elliott, who finished second to Sauter at Martinsville last year, is back in the saddle this weekend for GMS Racing in the team’s “all-star truck.” Elliott drove the No. 23 Chevy to a fifth-place finish at Atlanta.
Joining Elliott in the field is Ty Dillon. Dillon will make his first Truck Series start since August 2015. He will drive the No. 99 for Miller Motorsports that his brother, Austin, drove to a seventh-place finish at Atlanta.
With 35 drivers entered in Saturday’s race, three will fail to make what will surely be an exciting race mixed with rookie and veteran drivers.