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March 27th, 2010
By Ron Lemasters, Jr.
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Kevin Harvick’s bright orange Chevy Silverado was the class of the field on Saturday for the Kroger 250, but the operative colors for the day were black and blue.
More than the usual beating and banging dotted the 250-lap event, and at the end, there was a tense confrontation on pit road between runner-up Ron Hornaday and Johnny Sauter, who tangled off Turn 4 while battling for second place with less than 30 laps remaining.
Sauter bumped Hornaday’s Longhorn-backed Chevy on pit road, then exited his smoking ride and went right to Hornaday. Much gesticulating, some pointed chest-thumping and a lot of yelling later—under the watchful eye of a NASCAR official–Sauter exited the same way he came in.
Hornaday shrugged and said, “It’s just Martinsville. I don’t know what Johnny’s deal was…it seemed like he just got out of the throttle, and I had a pretty good run under him and doinked him. I just can’t say anything. I spun him out, that’s all there is to it.”
Harvick led 187 of the 250 laps and took the lead for good on a restart with 60 laps remaining after a tight battle with Timothy Peters.
Hornaday and Sauter were running second and third, respectively, and chasing Harvick hard. Sauter came off Turn 4 and Hornaday got back to the gas quicker than he did. When Sauter spun, fourth-place Mike Skinner was left no place to go and smacked both trucks hard. He finished 27th.
Sauter refused comment on the incident, instead praising his sponsor and saying hello to his family. He recovered to finish 13th.
Harvick was just too tough all day long, earning his fourth straight NCWTS victory in races he’s entered, his second straight in 2010 and his eighth career series triumph. He led the first 127 laps before hitting pit road.
“We were really good,” Harvick said, after returning from the scene of the post-race scrum. “I just wanted to make sure everyone was as professional as they could be. The 33 truck needed a good finish today, and things happen.
“We got a lot of pieces in this thing that are new, that Ron gets to run , and some different things that we got to try this week. That’s my job…R&D guy. It’s working out pretty well lately.”
Brian Ickler was third in Kyle Busch’s Toyota, followed by Peters and Johnny Benson.
Aric Almirola was sixth, followed by Matt Crafton, Max Papis, Mario Gosselin and Ricky Carmichael, who recovered from a mid-race bump-and-run incident in the Monster No. 4 Toyota.
Former Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan became the first Indian-born driver to start a NASCAR national-series event, coming home 13th. He spent the first 200 laps on the lead circuit, but was bumped by Clay Greenfield entering Turn 3 on lap 201.
After spinning, he was unable to restart his Truck and fell a lap down, but there were enough laps left for him to get the free pass and finish all 250.