Dover: Johnny Benson race report

TIRE PROBLEMS RELEGATE JOHNNY BENSON TO A 20TH PLACE FINISH AT DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. Benson led laps and was a contender for the win until a tire blew and his ...


Benson led laps and was a contender for the win until a tire blew and his #1 Red Horse Racing Tundra sustained body and engine damage. Unable to make up much ground, Benson was forced to accept a 20th place finish in the AAA Insurance 200.

Johnny Benson and his Red Horse Racing team knew the high-banked, concrete track dubbed the "Monster Mile" would be tough to tame but they felt prepared to make it happen. Benson was right on track when he took the lead on 51 and held it for 23 laps. Tire issues plagued the AAA Insurance 200 and Benson fell victim himself on lap 131 with a blown right front tire. The force tore apart the right front fender and also caused damage to the engine. Benson worked hard to make up the ground he lost but the engine problems slowed his #1 machine and he was unable to run competitive lap times. Benson and the team were relegated to a 20th place finish. Benson also took a hit in the points. He fell from seventh to 10th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver point standings.

When the #1 Red Horse Racing team unloaded at Dover International Speedway, they were fast from the first lap. After two practice sessions on Thursday, Benson felt confident this truck could take him to Victory Lane. Benson was able to qualify seventh despite rainy conditions that persisted all day on Saturday. Just after the command to start the engines for the race, thunderstorms moved into the area and soaked the racetrack. The race was postponed until the following evening.

When the green flag finally flew at the Monster Mile on Saturday evening, Johnny Benson wasted no time working his way to the front. In just two laps, he had taken over the sixth position. An early caution on lap two and another on lap seven gave Benson the chance to tell his crew that the truck was just a little tight on the exits of the corners. Just seven laps later, he radioed the crew again to say that the tires were starting to come in and the truck's condition was much better.

The caution flag flew on lap 33 and Benson told crew chief Trip Bruce that a minor air pressure adjustment would do the trick. Bruce called his driver to pit road on lap 35 for four fresh tires and the air pressure adjustment they had discussed. Several of the leaders stayed out so Benson restarted 14th.

After inspecting the tires that had just come off of the truck, Bruce told Benson the right rear tire was showing signs of wear.

On lap 45 NASCAR threw a competition caution so the teams could check their tire wear. Bruce opted to bring Benson to pit road under that caution to take fuel and a track bar adjustment only. Most of the other competitors took tires and fuel so this strategy put Benson in the lead for the restart.

Bruce told his driver to be smooth and take care of his tires despite having to hold off hard charging competitors behind him. Benson was conservative but still held the lead for 23 laps. Another caution came out on lap 76 for an accident. When pit road opened on lap 81, Benson came in for four tires. He returned on the following lap for fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted seventh.

During the next green flag run, Bruce told his driver that he was running really good laps times and was faster than anyone around him. Benson reported that the truck had been better on the previous run and wanted to reverse the adjustment the team had made on the last stop. The #1 Red Horse Racing machine returned to pit road under caution on lap 102 to reverse the previous wedge adjustment and fill up with fuel.

Benson restarted second and maintained his position in the top-five while taking care of his tires. After seeing several other competitors blow tires, Benson fell victim himself on lap 131. The right front tire on the #1 Tundra blew out and tire debris flew on the track. Benson was headed to pit road when NASCAR threw the caution flag for debris. The team put four fresh tires on Benson's Toyota and tried to repair the right front fender damage. Benson returned the following lap to work on the fender damage and take fuel. He restarted 19th, one lap down.

A quick caution on lap 142 gave Benson the "Lucky Dog" and he got back on the lead lap. Bruce took the opportunity to pit and work a little more on the fender damage. Just a few laps after the restart Benson began reporting a vibration in his truck. He eventually lost a lap to the leaders and was once again a lap down. When the caution came out on lap 183, Bruce called Benson back to pit road for new right side tires. The driver reported losing RPM's and the vibration getting worse. The crew opened the hood to diagnose the problem but could not immediately see anything wrong with the engine. Benson's lap times were getting slower and he reported that the throttle would not run wide open anymore.

When he could not pick up anymore positions on the track, Benson brought his wounded Toyota back to the garage just a few laps before the end of the race. The team looked over the engine and discovered that the throttle stop had been moved with the force of the right front tire blowing so it would not run wide open anymore. Benson had to settle for a 20th place finish at the "Monster Mile."

"We're obviously disappointed with the race today," Benson said after the race. "We had a good truck and it was running great until we blew that right front tire. We knew tires were going to be an issue today and we just didn't have as many sets as we needed to keep them from wearing out. That's two disappointing weeks for us in a row but we are headed to Texas this week and we'll turn it around there."

The NASCAR Camping World Series will head to Dallas, Texas this week. The WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled for Friday evening, June 5th.

-credit: rhr

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