Three In A Row For Benson At Milwaukee

Fireworks in the sky set the stage for points leader Johnny Benson’s first win of the season. With lightning flashing all around the historic Milwaukee Mile oval, the red flag was displayed, halting the field on the 150th lap of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. After the weather cleared, a fifty lap run to the finish ensued in the Camping World RV Sales 200 on Friday night. Benson took advantage of clean air on the nose of his Toyota Tundra to lead the final fifty laps and win his third Milwaukee Mile race in a row.

“The start of the race was really good, the middle of the race we had some issues, but last pit stop got us out front and that’s probably what won us the race,” explained Benson. “Once we got in that clean air out front, I felt I was in good shape. We didn’t cruise, I still drove my butt off, and it just ended up being a great day for us.”

After claiming the pole position in qualifying earlier in the day, Benson led the field to the green. But it was Rick Crawford, the outside polesitter, who drove his Ford to the front and led the first lap. Three laps later, it was Benson taking back the point, a position he would hold until the first round of pit stops.

Just as the most of the field had made their pit stops, the first caution was displayed when Paul Poulter stalled on the entrance of the pit lane. On the restart, Erik Darnell charged to the front with an outside pass of Benson’s Toyota on the backstraight to take the lead.

Just before the halfway point of the race, caution flew again for a multi-car wreck in the fourth turn. Jack Sprague got loose driving underneath Benson and was spun by Brendan Gaughan near the front of a pack of trucks. Rookie Colin Braun, Mike Skinner, David Starr, Ted Musgrave and Brian Scott all received damage after being caught up in the incident. Both Skinner and Sprague made multiple stops in the pits to fix damage during the caution and remain on the lead lap.

Darnell fell backwards through the field after the restart as Crawford took over the lead followed by Matt Crafton into second a few laps later. Benson also was able to make it past Darnell, assuming the third spot as lightning flashed in the distance. When the caution came out for weather, the leaders hit pit road. Benson came out first as Crafton and Crawford battled for second. NASCAR officials ruled that Crawford exceeded the speed limit on pit lane and penalized him, sending his truck to the end of the longest line and back to fourteenth.

“I gave one away,” said Crawford. “That’s my responsibility to drive pit road speed no matter what anybody else says on the radio. We got caught exiting the pit road and if we just have left him alone down there and not try to race out of the pits, we had the truck to beat.”

When the race restarted after a twenty-five minute delay, Benson took advantage of the top spot and drove away to the checkers. Crafton hung on for second with thoughts of what might have been. “We definitely thought we had something for him (Benson). For some reason, that set of tires (after the last pit stop), I just got really tight,” Crafton said. “Johnny (Benson) was definitely hard to beat tonight, but clean air is everything at every track we go to. I want to say if we had gotten out in front that last pit stop, we might have been able to beat him. I am happy with this but definitely not satisfied.”

Crafton’s finish moved him into third place in the point standings. Landon Cassill scored his first career top-five finish after taking the checkers in third, while Darnell and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.

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