Johnny Benson, Bill Davis Racing Team Celebrate 2008 Titles; NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champions Feted In Season-Ending Festivities
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Nov. 17, 2008) -- In a season of firsts -- and the final one for longtime series sponsor Craftsman -- Johnny Benson and his Bill Davis Racing team celebrated the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship Monday night during the series' awards banquet at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Benson, 45, became the series' 10th different champion by finishing seventh in Sunday night's Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He also became only the second competitor to win the truck series title and the NASCAR Nationwide title, having captured the latter in 1995. Greg Biffle is the other driver to have won both championships
The 13 years between championships is the longest in NASCAR national series history.
Owners Bill and Gail Davis and crew chief Trip Bruce also became NASCAR Craftsman Truck champions for the first time as Benson edged Ron Hornaday Jr. by seven points in the third-closest title race since the organization adopted its current national series points structure in 1975.
There has been a different champion each year since 2000 as the series concluded its 14th season.
Benson joined Bill Davis Racing in mid-2004 on a race-to-race basis and became a fulltime driver in 2005. He finished third in the standings a year ago after placing runnerup to Todd Bodine in 2006.
Over the course of the three seasons, Benson has won 14 races.
"Winning the championship for Bill and Gail Davis and BDR has been great. When I got the call from Bill (in 2004), we had two main goals. To win races and win a championship," said Benson, from Grand Rapids, Mich.
"We have accomplished those goals. I am excited about being Craftsman's last champion and being the ambassador for (news series sponsor) Camping World. We are going to enjoy this off season."
The championship was the first for the Davises, who have operated a NASCAR team for more than two decades and won the 2002 Daytona 500 with driver Ward Burton.
"Winning a championship is what NASCAR is all about; the ultimate goal," said Bill Davis in his banquet remarks. "For Gail and me, we have been lucky enough to be in the championship hunt for the last three seasons. We have been so close so many times."
Bruce, a 31-year-old Chester, Va., native, teamed with Benson for the past two seasons. Their nine victories rank No. 2 in the series over the two-year period.
During 2008, Benson and the team collected awards of $1,181,997 -- most in series history.
Benson was also named the series' Most Popular Driver for the third consecutive season. It marked the first time that fans could vote for the award.
Craftsman, the series' presenting sponsor in 1995 and full entitlement sponsor since the following season, will be succeeded by Camping World under a seven-year agreement beginning in 2009. The series will be known as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
"Over our 14-year span we've crowned 10 different champions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and have been proud to watch many of our series stars go on to become great heroes of NASCAR," said Mike Cassar, Craftsman brand manager. "While our role will change going forward, Craftsman will remain as the Official Tools of NASCAR."
The 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season will begin Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway.