Ron Hornaday, Jr. raises the checkered flag in Victory Lane after winning the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park
Ronda Greer / NASCAR
Ron Hornaday Jr. led the final 129 laps and survived a green-white-checkered finish to win the O'Reilly 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday night at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Hornaday's victory in the Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet was his third of the season and boosted him into the points lead, 27 in front of Matt Crafton. It was Hornaday's 36th career victory in the series, tops all-time.
Erik Darnell was second in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Crafton third in his ThorSport Racing Chevrolet.
Hornaday led 139 of the 204 laps, four over the scheduled distance on the .75-mile track. He pulled away from Darnell on the overtime restart, leading by two truck lengths into the first corner, and was never threatened. Hornaday's margin of victory was .269 seconds.
Each Memphis race winner is presented with a statuette of Elvis Presley, a copy of the full-size statue on Memphis' famous Beale Street.
"That Elvis (Presley) Trophy is the coolest in the world," Hornaday said. "I really wanted that trophy."
Hornaday started third and passed polesitter Johnny Benson for the lead on the inside in Turn 1 on the 44th lap. He tapped Benson's Bill Davis Racing Toyota in the rear in Turn 4 to set up the pass.
"Benson got loose and I got into the back of him," Hornaday said. "I'll take the blame. I didn't want to pass him that way, and Johnny knows that."
Hornaday was seventh and Benson eighth for a restart on Lap 58 following their first pit stops, trailing trucks that had either not pitted or pitted earlier.
The two blasted in tandem to the front, passing Stacy Compton on the inside of Turn 1 on Lap 76.
On the next restart on Lap 83, Benson's truck didn't accelerate. He limped around the track with an engine that didn't have any power and dropped out, finishing 33rd. Benson, who led 43 laps, fell from first to fourth in the points, 56 behind Hornaday.
"Benson had the truck to beat," Hornaday said. "He needed to break for us to win. I don't know if we want to be in the points lead. Everybody who gets in it seems to have problems."
Darnell's second-place run was his third straight top-five and fifth of the season.
"It was a really good night," Darnell said. "We qualified well and kept it up front most of the night. We were good on long runs. Ron (Hornaday) was better on restarts all night."
Darnell was 10th for the restart on Lap 83 and steadily worked his way forward. He passed Rick Crawford for second on the inside in Turn 1 on Lap 139 and stayed there to the checkered flag.
Crafton started 16th and charged to third, passing Crawford for the position on Lap 181 and holding it to the end. Crawford was fourth and David Starr finished fifth.
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