06/17/06
Benson 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 especially satisfying.

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.