Benson's Toyota Gets It Done Again In Nashville
Johnny Benson won his third straight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday, passing Erik Darnell for the lead with less than three laps remaining in the Toyota Tundra 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
Benson's victory also was his fourth in the past five races and 13th of his career. He has a 45-point lead over Ron Hornaday Jr., who finished fifth. He became Nashville Superspeedway's first double winner matching his 2006 victory. Benson is only the first driver to claim three consecutive victories joining Mike Hornaday, Skinner, Greg Biffle and Todd Bodine.
The Bill Davis Racing Toyota driver spent most of the 150-lap race driving up through traffic. He started 16th, drove up to fourth and fell back to 12th following his first pit stop. Benson was 13th prior to his second stop on Lap 65. The team took time to make adjustments, and he restarted 25th.
Ten laps later, Benson gained valuable track position by taking fuel only when pitting with most of the field, jumping from 15th to seventh.
Benson was fourth for the final restart with 23 laps remaining, trailing Darnell, Hornaday and Bodine.
Bodine and Benson passed Hornaday in three laps and, after a protracted side-by-side battle, Benson went past Bodine on the inside in Turns 1 and 2 on the 1.33-mile track on Lap 142. Within a lap, he was a truck length behind Darnell's Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Benson, on the inside, and Darnell were virtually even to start the 148th lap and Benson swept into the lead in Turn 1. He won by .89 seconds.
"I didn't think it was possible with 10 laps to go, to tell you the truth," Benson said. "I knew Darnell was going to be tough. I had a really hard time passing the 30 (Bodine), he was running strong, too. Then, I saw (Bodine) sliding around and I was able to get by him. I worked on Darnell and was able to get to victory lane."
Darnell had not taken any tires on his final pit stop on Lap 115, and it jumped him from 12th to second behind Hornaday for the ensuing restart on Lap 119. Benson had taken two tires on the same stop.
Darnell passed Hornaday almost immediately and led the next 29 laps.
"We were out of tires at the end," Darnell said. "I was doing my best to keep Johnny (Benson) back there and held him off for a while. As soon as he cleared Bodine, he ran right up there. Once (Benson) got air on the nose, that was it. I held him off for a while, but he got under me and that was it."
Bodine's Germain Racing Toyota was third, Jack Sprague was fourth in the Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet followed by KHI teammate Hornaday.