Benson Takes The Win

Johnny Benson held off a hard-charging Mark Martin in a final, two-lap sprint to claim Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The victory was Benson's first in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series after finishing second on four occasions. "You can't write the book any better than that," Benson said. "The only way it would have been better was to have gotten it a year ago." Benson led twice for 31 laps around the 2.0-mile Michigan International Speedway. He passed Martin's Scotts Ford on a lap 73 restart following the event's fourth of eight cautions. The move ¿ a low lane moved at the start-finish stripe ¿ proved fortuitous as Martin never got a run long enough to show his truck's strength. "Our truck's strong suit was long runs and it didn't play out that way," said the three-time series winner in 2006. Benson averaged 116.534 mph in a race scheduled for 100 laps but extended two serials by an accident between Turns 3 and 4 involving Martin Truex Jr. and Kerry Earnhardt. Benson won $56,600 in his 60th series start, edging Martin by .112 second ¿ about two lengths. He became the 17th different driver to win in all three of NASCAR's national touring series. Ironically, Benson joined the Bill Davis Racing team on a fulltime basis at MIS in 2004. Crew chief Rick Ren now counts seven victories with four different drivers. Martin, who led a race-high 33 laps on six occasions, was followed to the stripe by Bobby Labonte. Labonte, a last-minute addition to Bobby Hamilton Racing's No. 4 team, gave Dodge its first top-five finish of the season. Todd Bodine, who started a distant 25th in the 36-truck field, wound up finishing fourth in the Lumber Liquidators Toyota to extend his series point lead to 178 over David Reutimann. Matt Crafton was fifth in the Menards/Energizer Chevrolet ahead of Rick Crawford, Ron Hornaday Jr., defending race winner Dennis Setzer, Terry Cook and Jack Sprague. Budweiser Pole winner Mike Skinner led the first 25 laps but fell back with overheating problems before recovering to finish 11th. Erik Darnell, in 12th, was the race's best finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender. Thirty of the event's 34 finishers completed all 102 laps - a series record. Six drivers swapped the lead 14 times with Labonte, Crafton and Cook also heading the pack. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to Kansas Speedway on June 30 and July 1 with the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. The weekend includes the ARCA RE/MAX Series and IRL IndyCar Series. For season ticket information or to buy qualifying tickets, contact Kansas Speedway at 913.328.RACE or toll free at 866.460.RACE.
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