Atlanta: Johnny Benson race report

Johnny Benson Brings Home A Hard Fought Ninth Place Finish At Atlanta Motor Speedway; After being cited with a speeding penalty, Benson battled back to earn his first top-10 finish of the 2009 season. HAMPTON, GA. (March 7, 2009)-Johnny Benson...

Johnny Benson Brings Home A Hard Fought Ninth Place Finish At Atlanta Motor Speedway; After being cited with a speeding penalty, Benson battled back to earn his first top-10 finish of the 2009 season.

HAMPTON, GA. (March 7, 2009)-Johnny Benson and his Red Horse Racing team showed why they are a championship team during the American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Running in the top-10 for most of the 130-lap event, Benson was cited with a speeding penalty on his last pit stop of the day. Forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line with only 13 laps to go, Benson clawed his way from the 14th position to finish ninth when the checkered flag waved. His ninth place finish earned the #1 team its first top-10 finish of the season and moved them from 19th to 12th in Camping World Truck Series driver point standings.

After qualifying 18th, Johnny Benson and his #1 Red Horse Racing team were ready for battle at one of their favorite tracks. When the green flag dropped on the American Commercial Lines 200, Benson was on the move. It was evident he knew his way around Atlanta Motor Speedway as he picked up five positions in the first 15 laps. On lap 21, Benson radioed the crew that his #1 Toyota Tundra was loose getting in the corners and then quickly became tight in the middle of the corners. Asking for an air pressure adjustment on the first pit stop, Benson continued his forward progress by cracking the top-10 on lap 23.

The caution flag flew for the first time on lap 29 for debris on the racetrack. Crew chief Trip Bruce called his driver to pit road for four tires and air pressure adjustments the first time by. Coming back in the following lap for fuel, the team also checked the nose of the truck to make sure the grill was clean. Benson restarted 10th.

Still making progress through the field, Benson took over the seventh position on lap 56 but reported that the truck was still very tight in the center and developing a loose off condition.

Another caution came out for debris on lap 66 and Benson took the opportunity to hit pit road for more adjustments. Taking four fresh tires and a track bar adjustment on lap 68, Benson returned to pit road on lap 69 to fill up with fuel. An efficient pit stop by the crew put Benson in the sixth spot for the restart.

Shortly after reaching the fifth position, another caution came out on lap 73 for a spin on the racetrack. Bruce told his driver to stay out. When the field went green again, Benson radioed the crew that the tight center-off condition was worsening. Struggling to hold onto the sixth position, Bruce knew he had to make a major change on the final stop. He got that chance on lap 113 when the caution flag flew for debris.

Benson pitted for his final set of tires and air pressure adjustments on lap 115. Despite being very close on fuel, Bruce took a gamble and told his driver not to come back in for fuel. The move would have given Benson track position but NASCAR cited the #1 Toyota Tundra for speeding onto pit road. Although not agreeing with the penalty, Benson opted to hit pit road and take a splash of gas and a track bar adjustment since he had to restart at the tail end of the longest line to serve his penalty.

Restarting 14th, Benson did not give up. He fought hard for each position, eventually reaching ninth before the checkered flag flew. The team was frustrated by the penalty but was relieved to earn a top-10 finish after facing such adversity.

"We had a top-five truck here today and I thought before that penalty that we could have a shot at the win," said Benson. "Unfortunately, NASCAR said we were speeding and we lost several spots. I had my work cut out for me there at the end but I'm glad we were able to get inside the top-10. That will be a boost for these guys after the start of the season we've had. We'll go on to Martinsville in a couple weeks and get an even better finish there."

The NASCAR Camping World Series heads to Martinsville, Virginia in two weeks.

-credit: rhr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Johnny Benson
Teams Red Horse Racing