Johnny Benson battles back from an early spin to earn a fourth place finish in rain delayed Kroger 250; While running in the top-five, Benson gets spun early but rallies back to earn his first top-five finish of the season at Martinsville ...
Johnny Benson battles back from an early spin to earn a fourth place finish in rain delayed Kroger 250; While running in the top-five, Benson gets spun early but rallies back to earn his first top-five finish of the season at Martinsville Speedway.
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 30, 2009)- Johnny Benson and his Red Horse Racing team were ready for battle on the paperclip shaped Martinsville Speedway. Benson's dominance on short tracks in 2008 paired with trip to Victory Lane during his last visit to Martinsville gave the team the confidence they needed. The early laps of the race seemed to be playing into Benson's hands as he was running second and gaining on the leader each lap. Less than 50 laps into the Kroger 250, Benson was spun out by the third place truck and lost several positions. He clawed his way from deep in the field to get back inside the top-five. He finished the Kroger 250 in the fourth position, marking his first top-five finish of the season. That finish moved him up five spots into the seventh position in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver point standings.
The #1 Red Horse Racing team worked hard to tweak its truck during two practice sessions; one of which was ended after only 20 minutes due to rain. The minimal practice time didn't faze Benson; he qualified his #1 Toyota Tundra in the third spot for the Kroger 250. Just as qualifying ended, rain showers moved into the area and persisted long after the scheduled start of the race. It was postponed for noon on Monday.
By Monday morning the #1 Red Horse Racing team was anxious to get the short-track action started. When the green flag dropped, shortly after noon, Benson wasted no time improving his position. By the completion of lap one, he was in the second spot. When the caution came out on lap 13, Benson radioed the crew that the truck was really good but that passing was going to be difficult.
He worked on the back bumper of the leader until the third place truck of Ron Hornaday got into the back of Benson and turned him around on lap 48 and the caution came out. Benson spun up the race track but did not make contact with anything. The truck was fine; the only damage done was the loss of track position. Benson restarted seventh but quickly gained the sixth position. He told the crew he was starting to feel a tight condition on lap 53 and crew chief Trip Bruce formed a plan for changes on the first pit stop.
When the caution came out on lap 63 Bruce called his driver to pit road for four fresh tires. Since not everyone opted to pit, Benson restarted 27th. Fighting a tight condition that was only getting worse, he was still able to gain positions, working his way up to 20th by lap 90. The caution flag came out again on lap 92 and Bruce called Benson to pit road to top off with fuel since they did not take fuel on the first stop for tires. He also called for a track bar adjustment to help the tight condition. Benson gained back his track position on that stop and restarted 10th.
During the next 60 laps, Benson worked his way up to the fourth spot by being patient and taking care of his truck. He reported that the tires were starting to go away on lap 150 but did not want to pit because he would have to give up his track position. Benson knew he could finish the race with the tires and fuel he had but he would have to be a little conservative so the tires would hold up.
On lap 174 Benson told the team that he was lacking side bite. He slipped back one position and was running fifth. Watching the leaders battle hard each lap, he was in the perfect position to inherit the lead. Showing a combination of patience and determination, Benson held his own and reached the fourth spot before the checkered flag waved. He picked up his first top-five of the season for the #1 Red Horse Racing team.
The NASCAR Camping World Series heads to Kansas City, Kansas in four weeks.