Charlotte: Johnny Benson race report

COLLATERAL DAMAGE MADE FOR A LONG NIGHT AND A 23RD PLACE FINISH FOR JOHNNY BENSON AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY. In an effort to avoid an accident on the track, Benson drove through the grass which caused damage to his ...

COLLATERAL DAMAGE MADE FOR A LONG NIGHT AND A 23RD PLACE FINISH FOR JOHNNY BENSON AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY.

In an effort to avoid an accident on the track, Benson drove through the grass which caused damage to his #1 Red Horse Racing machine. The team worked hard to fix it but the damage was too severe for them to be competitive in the NC Education Lottery 200.

Johnny Benson and his Red Horse Racing team looked forward to a weekend of racing on their "home track." Just 20 minutes from Red Horse Racing's shop, Lowe's Motor Speedway seemed like the perfect place for the #1 team to pick up their first win of the season. Benson looked to be a strong contender when the race started but on lap 34 that all changed. The #5 of Mike Skinner spun on the front stretch and Benson's teammate, T.J. Bell was collected in the accident. Benson took evasive action to avoid it and drove onto the grass in between pit road and the race track. Benson was able to avoid the accident but the grass had ripped off the splitter on the truck and caused left front fender damage. The team spent much of the rest of the race fixing the damage on pit road and trying to complete laps and collect as many points as possible. Benson ended the night with a 23rd place finish in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. The finish dropped Benson two spots to seventh place in the NASCAR driver point standings.

When the #1 Red Horse Racing team unloaded at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday afternoon they were optimistic about their chances of finally claiming victory at the track. In the first laps of practice on Friday morning, Benson reported that he was really happy with his truck. Qualifying was rained out due to an afternoon thunderstorm but Benson was happy to take the sixth place starting spots his Owner's Points afforded him.

The green flagged dropped on the NC Education Lottery 200 just after eight o'clock Friday night. During the first pace laps it was sprinkling but fortunately the storm moved away from the track and didn't interrupt the race. Benson was immediately on the move. On lap two he claimed the seventh spot and by lap 10 he was sixth.

The caution came out on lap 25 and Benson told the team that his truck has started off loose but was getting better with each lap. Crew Chief Trip Bruce called his driver to pit road on lap 27 for fuel. Benson came back in on lap 28 for four fresh tires and no adjustments. Several competitors played a different strategy and only took two tires or no tires at all so Benson restarted 17th. Just two laps later the #5 of Mike Skinner got sideways and spun on the front stretch. He collected Red Horse Racing teammate T.J.Bell in the accident. Benson saw what was happening in front of him and dove towards pit road to avoid it. He ran through the grass in between pit road and the track. He was able to escape the accident but not the damage. The grass ripped the splitter off the nose of the truck and caused left front fender damage. While the race was red flagged to clean up debris, Benson and Bruce talked about how they would fix the damage. The team gathered replacement pieces and waited for Benson to hit pit road. When the red flag was lifted, Benson hit pit road and the crew worked to replace the nose and left front fender. It took multiple pit stops to fix because Benson did not want to go a lap down. When the two new pieces were secure and the field took the green flag again, Benson was 20th.

The #1 machine was starting to run hot and Benson headed to pit road again on lap 37. After making multiple pit stops to re-tape the nose and clean the grill, Benson found himself in the 25th position on lap 40. Quick work by the team to fix the damage kept Benson on the lead lap.

Reporting that his Toyota Tundra was getting really tight, Benson eventually lost a lap to the leaders on lap 69. A caution came out on lap 87 and the #1 headed to pit road once again. Taking four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment the first time, Benson came back the next lap for fuel and more repairs. He returned two laps later to make sure all the lug nuts were tight and make final repairs before going green. He restarted 21st.

On lap 112, Benson told the team that his truck was still running really hot. The crew got the cool down unit ready and Benson brought his Tundra to pit road. They put water into the radiator but the temperature was slow to come down. Benson lost more laps waiting on the temperature to drop but if he hadn't the engine would have blown. He returned to the track in the 23rd spot. Benson wasn't able to make up much ground in the final laps. He was enough laps down that there were no more positions to be gained. He finished the long night in the 23rd position. That finish dropped him two spots in the driver point standings; he now sits seventh.

"We are obviously disappointed by how this race went," Benson said. "I felt like we had a truck to win the race. When I saw Mike wrecking I had to try and avoid it so I went low and ran into the grass. That damaged our Toyota Tundra pretty badly and the guys had to work really hard to put it back together while still keeping me in the race. I'm proud of everyone's hard work tonight. We'll just go to Dover and get it back there."

The NASCAR Camping World Series will enjoy a weekend off before racing resumes in Dover, Delaware. The AAA Insurance 200 at Dover International Speedway is scheduled for Friday evening, May 29th.

-credit: rhr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Mike Skinner , Johnny Benson , T.J. Bell
Teams Red Horse Racing