Benjamin Claims Fatheadz 100 To Become Series Youngest Winner
by Dan Margetta
Clermont, Ind. July 27 - 14-year old Kyle Benjamin became the youngest ARCA/CRA Super Series winner Friday night at the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis as he bested Kenzie Ruston and Travis Sauter to take top honors in the Fatheadz 100 Super Late Model main event.
"It was fun racing everyone tonight," Benjamin told the crowd from victory lane, "Kenzie (Ruston) was strong and had something working on the bottom groove. She definitely gave me a run for my money."
"But I love being out there in front like that, " Benjamin continued, commenting on pacing the final 53 laps of the 100 lap event, "Because you can really save your stuff for the end."
Erik Darnell and Boris Jurkovic led the field to the green flag with Darnell easing into the lead from the outside lane. Darnell paced the first seven laps before Jurkovic made an inside charge to lead on lap eight. Contact amongst them sent Jurkovic into the frontstretch wall as the field scattered to avoid the incident. In the chaos behind the leaders, several cars including Michael Bilderback, Scott Hantz, Chris Gabehart, Brett Robinson, Kyle Jones, and Eddie Van Meter bottlenecked together against the turn one wall drawing the red flag to stop the event.
Darnell maintained the lead for the restart over Kyle Benjamin, Dillon Oliver, Chad Finley, and John VanDoorn while Brian Campbell, Travis Sauter and Kenzie Ruston began to advance toward the top five. Campbell gradually picked off spots and worked his way into second place by lap 18 just before the caution waved again when Sauter slowly spun off turn four while racing for position with Oliver. Darnell and Campbell battled for the lead on the ensuing restart with Darnell maintaining the point for three laps before Campbell made run off turn four to lead lap 25 at the stripe. As they entered turn one side by side, Campbell narrowly cleared the nose of Darnell's car and as Campbell washed up the track, Darnell remained in the throttle and drew alongside exiting turn two. The lead battle ended shortly thereafter as contact between the two sent both cars spinning down the backstretch and the yellow flew once again.
Chad Finley took over the point as racing resumed and he paced the next ten circuits before Benjamin swept by to grab the lead on lap 37. With Benjamin out front, Kenzie Ruston and Daniel Hemric began to work their way toward the front as well as Travis Sauter who sliced his way forward after recovering from the early spin. Ruston advanced all the way to second and following a lap 41 caution, made a charge on Benjamin for the lead, pacing the race briefly on lap 46 before Benjamin retook the top spot a lap later. Ruston spent the remainder of the race chasing Benjamin while Hemric and Sauter diced for third, with Sauter eventually taking the position late in the going. Benjamin was never headed in the final laps and he drove to the win over Ruston and Sauter while Hemric and Terry Fisher Jr. rounded out the top five. Erik Darnell rebounded from his earlier misfortunes to finish sixth while Becca Kasten also recovered from the early red flag incident to cross the stripe in seventh. Nick Lay was eighth while John VanDoorn and Kenny Tweedy completed the top ten finishers.