CRAFTSMAN TRUCK Ford 200Final
Benson Jr. wins NCTS Ford 200, Hornaday Jr winsNov 17, 2007 - 4:11 AM By Bruce Martin PA SportsTicker Contributing Editor
HOMESTEAD, Florida (Ticker) - Johnny Benson Jr. gave Bill Davis Racing something to celebrate by stealing a win away from Kyle Busch while his teammate, Mike Skinner gave the team cause for disappointment by losing the title which was claimed by Ron Hornaday Jr.
Benson passed race-leader Kyle Busch on the final lap of a green-, white-, checkered-flag finish to win Friday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"He didn't look real happy losing the title," Benson said of team owner Bill Davis. "It came down to the last race and they had some issues that hurt the deal. But Mike Skinner and Bill Davis Racing can be real happy with the season they had. I hope next year it just comes down to Mike and myself for the title next year and no one else.
"I wanted to see Mike win this thing as bad as anybody. Even through that deal last week I wanted to see Mike win it. I know last week caused some friction but we needed our points, too, and that got us into third spot."
Benson's Toyota Tundra finished 0.600-seconds of Busch's Chevrolet.
"Our win was great," Benson said. "We were really dominant early on and was just trying to play it cool there. We really thought we would run second until that last caution. I could get to him but couldn't pass him.
"The green-, white-, checkered- really worked out for us this time. It was a great night. I know Mike Skinner had his problems but that caution was timely for us. The rest made for an exciting finish. For us to have the year we had with four wins has been a tremendous season for us. Hopefully we can be a championship contender next year for sure."
Skinner had two incidents that wiped out his 29-point lead. The first came on lap 25 when Skinner had to pit because he thought the right front tire was flat. When Skinner pitted, his crew changed the tire only to determine it wasn't flat.
That put Skinner one lap down to the leaders and dropped him out of the points lead.
But the final blow came on lap 74 when the right rear wheel came off his truck and rolled through the fourth turn. Skinner was able to drive his truck into the pit area on three wheels when the crew discovered the studs that hold the wheel on had been stripped.
That sent Skinner's truck behind the wall for 11 laps to repair the damage. He finished 35th and lost the title by 54 points.
Hornaday also had his moments, including pitting twice under caution to top of his fuel. He bobbled once in the fourth turn and his team decided to change tires before a green-, white-, checkered-flag finish after a spin with two laps left.
When the green flag waved, Busch led Johnny Benson, Jr., Rick Crawford and Kevin Harvick.
Willy Allen spun as the leaders headed to the white flag but NASCAR officials did not throw the yellow flag allowing the top two drivers to fight it out for the win.
But it was the previous yellow flag that upset Busch the most when Chris Jones spun out but did not crash. Busch believed the race could have concluded under a normal finish
"It was a bull (bleep) call by NASCAR there at the end," Busch said. "A guy spins out and they didn't throw the yellow. When you have a truck like that and you get out front you hope for the best.
"I couldn't hold them off. At the beginning of the race we were horrible and had a bad beginning but were able to come into the pits, make some adjustments on it and got everybody a lap down. The adjustments we made really freed up the truck. It got us out front, got us out in clean air. I'm just disappointed with NASCAR's decision to throw a yellow for a truck that didn't even spin out. It cost us the race."
Rick Crawford's Ford was third and he backed up Busch's criticism about throwing the yellow flag for Jones' spin.
"NASCAR don't surprise me by throwing cautions any more," Crawford said.
Crawford was followed by Hornaday's winning team owner, Kevin Harvick, who finished fourth in a Chevrolet.
Hornaday claimed his third NCTS championship with a seventh-place finish.
"There you go boys, Ron Hornaday, Craftsman Truck Champion," the title winner said to his crew over the team's radio.
"What a great way it is to win this thing," Hornaday said later. "I won a lot of races in that blue-and-yellow truck so this is pretty cool."
Harvick thought his driver did a fantastic job winning the title.
"It took us six years to finally get a championship," Harvick said. "The coolest part about this whole thing was being able to stop on the backstretch and congratulate Hornaday on this whole thing."