Tied for fourth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship standings heading into Friday night's event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Johnny Benson and his No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota Tundra team looked forward to moving up even further in the...
Tied for fourth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship standings heading into Friday night's event at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Johnny Benson and his No. 23 Exide Batteries Toyota Tundra team looked forward to moving up even further in the standings.
Weather issues delayed practice Friday morning, so Benson was more than ready to go when practice finally began. He posted good lap times in the sole practice session and expected more of the same in qualifying.
Benson had an early draw in the qualifying order. He recorded a time of 31.090 seconds, placing him 14th on the starting grid for the race that evening.
Benson vaulted forward immediately after the green flag waved over the 36-truck field. The handling of his No. 23 Exide Batteries Tundra became tighter by the lap, but he still managed to pick off positions.
The second caution flag of the night waved on lap 21, and Benson joined the majority of the field on pit road. The handling of Benson's truck improved as the race continued, so the crew made no changes to the truck during the four-tire stop.
After returning to the top-10, Benson made his move to the front on lap 50. He moved into the top five as the halfway point of the 138-lap race approached.
A long green flag run forced the field to make green flag pit stops. Benson made his four-tire stop on lap 80. A fast stop by the Exide crew placed Benson fourth when the round of pit stops was completed.
Soon after the pit stop, Benson felt something funny. He reported to crew chief Trip Bruce that his truck's handling was loose and that he thought a wheel might be loose as well. The Exide crew readied itself for a pit stop when the caution flag waved with 34 laps remaining. The crew fixed the handling issue during the stop.
Armed with the fastest truck on the track, the veteran race driver battled for the lead on lap 120. Numerous cautions plagued next few laps, forcing Benson to keep digging for the lead position. He finally took the on the lap 127 restart, but NASCAR officials believed Benson jumped the start. Benson was black flagged and forced out of contention for the win. He finished 11th.