Breaks Through in Own Backyard
Put simply, Johnny Benson couldn’t have
scripted a better homecoming at Michigan International Speedway.
It took the Michigan native 60 starts in the Craftsman Truck
Series to get his first victory and by doing so he became the
17th driver to win in NASCAR’s three top touring divisions.
The victory itself was special for Benson but the fact that
he beat Cup Series regular Mark Martin to get it made it an
Martin has won three of the six truck races he’s run this
season and when the race came down to a green/white/checker
finish he was right on Benson’s tailgate for the final
four-mile sprint. Benson’s Toyota got a good jump on the
final restart and easily kept Martin in the rearview mirror.
“This is awesome,” said Benson, who led 31 laps
– second only to Martin’s 33. “When you’ve
got the best guy behind you – that’s the best place
to have him. Once we got out front, the clean air was pretty
good. Two years ago here Bill Davis gave me a chance to drive
his Toyota truck and it was an awesome opportunity.”
Martin came up just 0.112-second shy of adding another notch
to his win column but the veteran knew his chances were remote
when the final caution flag flew. “Take nothing away from
Johnny Benson and his team,” Martin said. “He was
really fast, especially on short runs. The chance that we had
was a long run and we didn’t get it at the end.”
Bobby Labonte took the reins of one of Bobby Hamilton Racing’s
Dodges this weekend, led 10 laps and rounded out the top three
in his first series start since last October.
Todd Bodine retained the points lead and increased his advantage
to 178 with a fourth place finish while his teammate Ted Musgrave
struggled to come home 23rd and lost the runner-up position
to David Reutimann, who finished 15th.
The Milwaukee Mile will play host to the truck series teams
including defending race winner Dennis Setzer next Friday night.