Making just his 4th ever ARCA Series start and his second at Daytona, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell put on quite a show in the Lucas Oil 200. Clay started in the 15th position and quickly began to pick his way to the front. It didn't take long for pack-style racing to rear its ugly head. Just 13 laps in, this multi-car dustup brought out the caution flag, taking out the cars of Jeb Burton, Benny Gordon, and Mark Thompson, but Campbell avoided the mess by going low, staying in the race.
“I was joking in here with Joie Chitwood, the president of the track,” Campbell said. “He got on me last year for running through the grass so he said, ‘You did a great job going down pit road and everything worked well. You stayed off my grass.’ My guys kept saying go down pit road and that’s what I did.”
Clay worked his way into the top ten and was riding third on the final restart. He kept the No. 52 there to the finish, giving his owner and legendary driver Ken Schrader a third place finish at the World Center of Racing behind winner Grant Enfinger and Frank Kimmel.
“I never thought I would see the day that I would have that good a finish but it’s all call,” Campbell said. “The driver can’t do too much here. You hold it to the mat and have a steady hand and a steady wheel and that’s about all you can do. I had a great spotter with Tab Boyd and he kept me patient.”
Some of the event's best racing took place when Clay was side by side with Christiansburg's Derrick Lancaster. Lancaster started 24th and also stayed out of the early trouble. He found his way to the top-ten midway through the race, but as the laps wound down he got stuck in the outside lane and was shuffled back. Still, Lancaster brought home a solid 13th place finish in his Daytona debut.
“I made a little mistake there at the end when Chase came by and I thought for sure he was going to the front,” Lancaster said. “I jumped up there to go with him and it must have messed-up the momentum of the two cars and they didn’t work together very well. I’m upset a little bit but I’m very happy to come here and not get torn-up. The first time in Daytona, I’m just tickled to death."
The Cup stars came out for the running of the Sprint Unlimited and there were plenthy of fireworks to go around. Jimmie Johnson didn't even make it through the first 35 lap segment crashing out for the third consecutive year. Early in segment 2, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano made contact, triggering a 9 car melee that eliminated half the field, and red flagged the race for ten minutes.
Following a mandatory two tire change, there was more carnage but Denny Hamlin won the war of attrition getting the lead back with one to go, beating Brad Keselowski to the checkers for his second Sprint Unlimited win.
“You go into the season and you’re undefeated,” Hamlin said. “You won the last race so I can’t say enough about the momentum that it builds within the team. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning practice or you’re winning all the segments or leading the most laps. It all helps build team morale and ours is really at an all-time high right now.”
Hamlin's win will certainly be popular in Blacksburg. He's a huge Tech football fan and he has two Hokie grads on his team--crew chief Darian Grubb from Floyd County and gas man Caleb Hurd from Pulaski.