MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Dennis Setzer brought more than a truck into Victory Lane on Saturday. He also returned a little luster to a proud organization.
Setzer hung on while Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson wrecked behind him to win the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway and gave Bobby Hamilton Racing its first Craftsman Truck Series victory since the team’s late owner, Bobby Hamilton Sr., won at Mansfield, Ohio, in May 2005.
Hamilton Sr. died Jan. 7, 2007, after a battle with cancer. He drove the No. 18 Dodge for three races in 2006, but never drove again after announcing his diagnosis at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“This win right here is for Bobby Hamilton – ONLY,” Setzer’s crew chief, Marcus Richmond, yelled from atop the team’s pit cart immediately after the race. “He is the man.”
Setzer had a dominant truck but had to fight his way through 15 cautions, including an overtime needed when Mike Skinner ran out of gas on Lap 247 and was hit hard from behind by Kyle Busch.
As Setzer cruised toward the finish line on the final lap, chaos erupted behind him in Turn 4 as Busch got into Benson while both were racing for second place.
“They put a great truck under me. Bobby Hamilton Racing moved to Virginia, really spent a lot of money getting this thing up and going, and it’s starting to pay some dividends for us now,” said Setzer.
BHR has used several drivers since Hamilton Sr. stopped driving, and added veteran Setzer, a short-track ace, at the end of last season. It also moved its base of operations from Nashville, Tenn., to Martinsville.
Setzer’s win is the 18th of his career and third at the track. Martinsville is also the site of Hamilton Sr.’s first series win, in 2000, and where he earned one of his four career Sprint Cup series victories.
“The emotions are running high right now, of course. We all said when Bobby passed away that if we couldn’t do it with him, we would do it in honor of him,” said Lori Hamilton, Hamilton Sr.’s widow and BHR team co-owner.
“This win is for all the race fans, all of Bobby’s friends and all the employees that have stood behind us.”
Matt Crafton finished a career-best second. Rick Crawford was third, Ken Schrader fourth and Erik Darnell fifth.
Busch continues to lead the standings, holding a 32-point advantage over Todd Bodine.
Chrissy Wallace, the daughter of NASCAR veteran Mike Wallace, finished 18th in her series debut.