It was a late race duel to the finish, and it was Trevor Ward who outlasted all the battles and took home the win and the grandfather clock in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Ward secured his first career crown jewel win in late model racing by just five-hundredths of a second.
"I'm speechless. I have to thank everybody. We've worked so hard...We never thought we'd be here," the Winston Salem, NC native said post-race. "It's not about the money. It's about the work and the ethic that goes into it."
Part of that family operation for Ward is his dad, Dean. The Ward family has been trying to score this win for decades.
"We've been trying for 30 years. Trevor got the lead, and we said, 'This is it. He's gonna get us a clock," said Dean Ward.
Ward battled back hard after a late race restart with seven laps to go. Contact from eventual second-place finisher Landon Huffman set him and the No. 22 to the lead, but with three laps to go, the driver of the No. 77 machine managed to get side-by-side and the two racers dueled it out for the last three laps.
Huffman and the Nelson Motorsports team came home in second on the night. Huffman gave it his all but came up heartbreakingly short.
"Heartbreaking. To come so close like that to a crown jewel. Especially just not knowing how many opportunities I'm gonna get to have a shot at winning this race...I felt like I did everything I could do there to put myself in position. Wish I could have got out front just a little bit more," the Claremont, NC said.
JR Motorsports hotshoe Carson Kvapil, 2022 winner Peyton Sellers, and Doug Barnes rounded out the top five.
Once the green fell on the race, it seemed like it would be pole-sitter Bobby McCarty as the one to beat in Virginia. After a battle with Doug Barnes early in the race, McCarty took the lead and made it through a caution-filled first stage of the event.
The biggest moment in the race came on lap 36 with a multi-car wreck, which collected some big names including Sam Yarbrough and veteran Mike Looney.
As the second stage started off, the running order started to shuffle some with McCarty starting to drop back some and Kvapil working the bottom lane to take the lead.
Then, with 55 to go, the man who was fastest all weekend came to a halt as the engine on McCarty's No. 6 detonated and he came to a stop off Turn 4.
"Just let a motor go. It's unfortunate...I don't know if it started at the halfway break. It felt like I was driving through mud," the Kernersville, NC native said.
McCarty also voiced his frustration with the No. 8a of Kvapil.
"[Kvapil] shipped me four car lengths. I'll remember that. I'm sure I'll be the bad guy. I've raced him clean all year long and never touched him, then the first chance he gets he does that."
McCarty would be credited with a 33rd-place finish.
2023 Martinsville 300 Race Results
|23||15A||Kres Vandyke||199||1 lap|
|24||8||Thomas Scott||199||1 lap|
|25||88c||Dustin Rumley||199||1 lap|
|26||51b||Ryan Matthews||199||1 lap|
|27||01A||GR Waldrop||199||1 lap|
|28||7B||Karl Budzevski||198||2 laps|
|29||14||Jared Fryar||192||8 laps|
|30||77B||Connor Hall||155||45 laps|
|31||95||Sam Yarbrough||155||45 laps|
|32||7||Dylan Ward||155||45 laps|
|33||6||Bobby McCarty||145||55 laps|
|34||8b||Chase Burrow||135||65 laps|
|35||32||Zach Miracle||114||86 laps|
|36||87||Mike Looney||56||144 laps|
|37||15c||Ryan Millington||45||155 laps|
|38||51||Matt Cox||37||163 laps|
|39||09||Riley Gentry||36||164 laps|
|40||41||Davey Callihan||0||200 laps|
Story by: Ben Branscum
Photo Credit: Screengrab from FloRacing broadcast