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In a Nutshell: After starting the season without a single Craftsman Truck Series win, Johnny Benson scored his fourth of the season Saturday night in the Sylvania 200 (Sept. 16). Starting on the front row, Benson dominated for much of the evening, finishing .691 seconds ahead of polesitter Mike Skinner at the checkered flag. Kyle Busch, Todd Bodine and David Starr rounded out the top-five finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Benson. Starting in second alongside Skinner, Benson led four different times for 145 laps, taking the lead for the final time when Mike Bliss brought out the caution on lap 168 when NASCAR’s scoring loops showed Benson was a nose ahead of Busch. While Busch did have his moments, leading for a brief stretch, it was clear that Benson had the truck to beat over all others.
Question You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
Did NASCAR send a clear enough message to drivers regarding “revenge” on the track?
Ted Musgrave and Rick Crawford made contact on lap 90, causing Musgrave to bounce off the wall. An angry Musgrave waited for Crawford in order to retaliate, and pushed him into the wall during the caution laps before pulling down pit road.
Because of that, Musgrave was parked for the rest of the race, one of the most severe penalties handed out by NASCAR this season, and will most likely face further penalties this week. It looks like the sport is sending a message that rough driving and paybacks on the track will no longer be tolerated.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
In his CTS debut, Benson’s teammate AJ Allmendinger finished 13th in a third Bill Davis Racing Toyota. The 24-year-old Champ Car World Series star started at the back of the field after crashing his primary truck in qualifying, but was still able to slice and dice his way through the field as if he was a Truck Series veteran.
With only seven races remaining, the championship is not quite a lock for Bodine. With his win on Saturday evening, Benson gained 30 points on Bodine, who finished fourth, and now sits 124 points out of the lead. If Bodine and the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota continue to run consistently like they have been, Benson won’t be able to catch them, but it’s now to the point where one bad week for the No. 30 team will put Benson squarely within striking distance.
David Reutimann, Crawford and Starr round out the top five in points, with Musgrave’s on-track incident and off-track frustration dropping him to sixth.
“The only way to catch Todd [Bodine] is to do what we did today. Todd and those guys have been consistent all year, but we’re doing everything we can to get ’em.” – race winner Johnny Benson
“We just needed a long green run and we never could get it.” – runner-up Mike Skinner
“There are guys out there that are Chevrolet drivers that I don’t get along with. One of them got into me and tried to wreck me early in the race. But there are drivers from other manufacturers out there that I respect and enjoy racing with, and Mike Skinner is one of those.
“I could have got into him there, but I let him go on and we gave up the spot but it was the right thing to do because that’s how he races me. I don’t know what it is but I just love these 1-mile ovals. This place and the old Chicago Motor Speedway have always been real good to me.” – Kyle Busch
Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series will run its 19th race of the season, the Smith’s Las Vegas 350, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday night. Skinner holds the qualifying record with a speed of 165.320 mph (set in 2004), and Bodine is the defending race winner. Television coverage begins at 9:00 p.m. ET live on SPEED and the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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