Benson Charges To Victory At ORP

Indianapolis, IN – Ron Hornaday looked like he was going to victory lane Friday night in the Power Stroke Diesel 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at O’Reilly Raceway Park, but a late race charge by Johnny Benson saw him lead Hornaday to the checkered flag.

Hornaday dominated most of the event before Benson put his Bill Davis Racing Toyota into the lead for good on lap 153. He survived five caution periods during the final 47 laps to extend his series points lead over Hornaday to 15 points going into the next race at Nashville Superspeedway.

“Johnny had the truck to beat all weekend. We were lucky that he started eighth and we could get away before he caught us,” said Hornaday who started fourth but only needed four laps to pass pole-sitter Bobby East Jr. for the lead and a chance to get out front before Benson cleared traffic.

“I was watching Ron, watching what he was doing. I was just biding my time, trying not to heat up my Goodyears too bad. When we finally passed him for good (on lap 162), I tried to stay in clean air. If I went to the top, he went to the bottom. He had a strong truck and when he had some handling problems there, we were able to get past him and survive all of those restarts,” said Benson who has won three of the last four series events. “There’s no doubt we were the two strongest trucks. I saw him go to the top and when I went up there it stuck. It wasn’t too bad, I kinda liked it up there. You take a huge risk running up near the wall, but it worked.”

The first half of the race saw only two caution periods. The second, on lap 85, allowed the leaders to pit for what turned out to be the only time.

The final 100 laps were marred by 9 yellow flags that could have given Hornaday, who is known as the “king of restarts,” an advantage. But on each restart Benson stayed in front and withstood a final charge by Hornaday’s Kevin Harvick-owned Camping World Chevrolet. ” I was loose there at the end and had all I could do to stay close to Johnny, said Hornaday.

” The 14 (Rick Crawford) was coming there at the end and I had to work to keep ahead,” said Benson who became the 10th different series winner in the last ten races at ORP.

Crawford slowed near the end after dropping a cylinder and became involved with Michael Annett who was driving the other Bill Davis Toyota entry. Crawford finished 12th, while Annett dropped to 21st after running with the leaders most of the night.

Kyle Busch, NASCAR’s winningest driver in 2008, had a tough night running near the back of the 34-truck field early on, when he thought he had a tire going down. But after a pit stop, his Toyota didn’t get better and he finished 8th. His run was marred by an incident that caused Chad McCumbee to hit the first turn wall as the two battled on lap 136. With sparks flying from the contact, McCumbee set out after Busch and cut in front of him much to the delight of the crowd.

Erik Darnell, Matt Crafton and Shelby Howard rounded-out the top five behind Benson who averaged 74.859 mph.

“A 15 point lead is obviously not enough as we go for a championship,” said Benson after the race. ” It’s a long season and a lot can happen. We felt we were a championship team the last two years and just didn’t get the job done. We’ll keep plugging.”

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