Todd Bodine won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ford 200 last night at Homestead – Miami Speedway, but Johnny Benson took the truck series title by finishing ahead of Ron Hornaday. Benson joins Greg Biffle as the only drivers to win both a NNS title and NCTS title.
The race wasn’t very exciting until a caution on lap 124 brought Benson back into the Championship picture with pit strategy.
The report from NASCAR.COM:
After pitting for four tires under caution on Lap 126, Ron Hornady chased Benson to the stripe during a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race three laps beyond its scheduled 134-lap distance. Hornaday came home eighth, one position behind Benson and one position short of his fourth series championship.
Benson’s team changed plans at the last second and kept the No. 23 Toyota on the track during that caution, and that decision proved to be the winning move.
“It was only fun at the end — not at the beginning or the middle,” said a delighted Benson, who fought handling problems early in the race. “If those guys didn’t come in, I might have come in, but when they came in, I knew what he [crew chief Trip Bruce] wanted to do, so I stayed out …
“All these guys behind me that worked on this thing are great friends. We’ve worked very hard to make this happen. [Friday] was about Trip Bruce making the right calls.”
Hornaday had radio problems late in the race and couldn’t communicate to crew chief Rick Ren that he preferred not to pit under the caution on Lap 126.
“It was an awesome day for us until that last call,” Hornaday said. “We didn’t know all those guys [trucks that came out of the pits ahead of Hornaday] were going to take two tires and get out in front of us. But Johnny Benson and those guys had a great year, and we came up one position short.”
Benson’s two-tire call under caution on his final pit stop gave him the lead with 43 laps left and transformed the race from ho-hum to humdinger. Benson held the lead for a restart on Lap 95 with Hornaday in tow. Less than one lap later, Busch stormed into the mix from sixth position and kept Hornaday occupied until he took the lead for himself.
On old left-side tires, Benson began to fade and had dropped to seventh by Lap 117. Hornaday surrendered the second spot to Scott but appeared headed for the championship before pole-sitter Mike Skinner’s blown right-front tire bought out the fourth caution of the race on Lap 124.