Originally created 04/18/99

Hensley wins in backyard



MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Local favorite Jimmy Hensley passed fellow Virginian Stacy Compton coming out of the fourth turn with 36 laps to go and pulled away to win the NAPA 250 Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday.

Hensley, whose home is only about five miles from Martinsville Speedway, gained his second career victory in the series and took his time getting to Victory Lane. He stopped his Dodge on the start-finish line and climbed out onto the rear deck to a roaring crowd, pumping his arms in celebration.

After a minute or two, Hensley climbed down and hugged team owner Richard Petty and several others who ran up, then made his way to Victory Lane.

"Pretty close to the top," he said, his voice breaking, when asked where the victory rated in his career, which includes a Winston Cup rookie of the year award in 1992 and more than $4 million in career earnings.

The spontaneous celebration just seemed like the right thing, he said.

"Everybody responded pretty good, so I'm kind a glad I did that," he said. "I was certainly emotional when I got up on the back of the truck."

Hensley won by 4.978 seconds, and Compton held off a late challenge from Jack Sprague to claim second, also in a Dodge. Sprague's Chevrolet was followed by Kevin Cywinski and Greg Biffle, both in Fords.

Compton moved into the series points lead when Ron Hornaday, who held a 45-point lead, wound up 16th. Compton now leads Hornaday by 15 points.

"We're trying to make smart decisions this year and hopefully if we can, we can give the Jack and Ron Show a run for the championship," Compton said.

For Hensley, who also won last year in Nashville, Tenn, the victory came on the same track where he was denied one last fall, but one he's been racing on -- and winning on -- since a modified victory on the oval in 1968.

He also won five times in the Busch Grand National Series on the .526-mile oval, the first victory coming in 1974 and the last in 1991.

"Anytime you can win at your home track it's special," he said.

And in a race that featured plenty of bumping and banging and flying sheet metal, Hensley did it with a clean pass of Compton on the 214th lap.

"Stacy's truck was loose on the restart. I just ducked under him. We didn't get together or anything, and I just kept on going," Hensley said.

Sprague said losing to Hensley made losing at all easier to handle.

"I think it's great. I think a lot of Jimmy Hensley," he said. "I've never had the first problem with him. He is a true Virginia gentleman."

The race was dominated first by Mike Wallace, who led the first 84 laps and for 122 laps in all, and then by Dennis Setzer until his bump with Hornaday in the front straightaway caused him to cut a tire and fade.

That allowed Compton to move into the lead, but with Hensley moving up fast and Compton trying to hang on after losing his power steering, it was only a matter of time before the veteran from Ridgeway took the lead.

Wallace, who broke an axle and lost the lead to Setzer on lap 146, wound up 26th. Setzer finished 15th, the first non-lead lap finisher.