The Frontstretch: Tearing Apart the Trucks : Craftsman's Tenure Ends in Style by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday November 13, 2008

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : Craftsman's Tenure Ends in Style

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday November 13, 2008

 

Here we are at the end of yet another year of Craftsman Truck Series racing. It sure has been fun watching Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Johnny Benson swap the top spot in the standings. With just one race remaining on the schedule to settle it all, the championship is still up for grabs. Johnny Benson currently leads Ron Hornaday, Jr. by just three points.

Statistically speaking, Ron Hornaday, Jr. definitely has the edge going into Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both drivers have one win to their credit, but Johnny Benson’s win came more recently—he closed out the 2007 season with a win at the mile and a half track. However, in eight starts, Ron Hornaday, Jr. has finished outside the Top 10 only once; Benson has run four races and finished outside the Top 10 twice.

Johnny Benson is definitely the sentimental favorite going into the Ford 200. Since July, 2004, Johnny Benson has piloted the No. 23 Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing. In that time, Benson has won the fan voted “Most Popular Driver” award twice.

After the checkered flag flies over Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnny Benson will say farewell to Bill Davis Racing. In four and a half years, Benson has brought the No. 23 Toyota from the low-20’s in owner points up to a championship contender. During his tenure with BDR, Benson scored 14 wins and 71 Top 10 finishes.

Last year, Johnny Benson celebrated a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With just a three point margin over Ron Hornaday, Jr. in the championship standings, Benson will be looking for a repeat performance there this weekend.

Sirius Speedway’s Dave Moody reported early this week that Johnny Benson may be making the move to Red Horse Racing next season along with most of his current team. Though it is only a rumor right now, sources close to the team have said Benson’s crew chief, Trip Bruce, has already cleaned out his desk. Johnny Benson would only confirm that he is leaving Bill Davis Racing at the end of the season and has thought about retiring.

“Now, I threw around the idea of maybe retiring at the end of the season, but when I had said that, a bunch of opportunities come up. The truck series is such a great series but you can go run 10 Cup races and make more money than to run the whole season,” Benson said. “But I don’t necessarily know if I want to do that either. Now it seems kind of odd to do that, to be in a situation to run for a championship and then want to leave, but there’s a couple of other little issues and things of this nature.”

No matter what happens tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Truck Series is sure to put on a great show. With only one finish outside the Top 10 in eight races, I’d say it’s a safe bet Ron Hornaday, Jr. will finish inside the Top 10 and give Johnny Benson a good run for the championship. But if Benson can remember he’s running for a championship, he just might have a chance to become the first two-time winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway and win his first Craftsman Truck Series championship.

Farewell Craftsman

The Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway marks the end of Craftsman’s sponsorship of the Truck Series. For 14 years, Craftsman has helped the Truck Series grow from one man’s idea to the series with the best racing week in and week out. Circle Bar Racing will be running a special paint scheme honoring Craftsman’s tenure with the sport.

Thank you Craftsman for helping the Truck Series get off the ground, and thank you for 14 years of support. Without your support, the Truck Series would not be what it is today.

Did You Know…

  • The official NASCAR Camping World Truck Series logo is expected to be unveiled during Truck Series qualifying this evening at 5:00 pm EST? The logo was scheduled to be unveiled last week at Phoenix but was postponed.
  • Tayler Malsam will pilot the No. 24 Stocks for Tots Toyota for Bill Davis Racing this weekend? This will be Malsam’s second start in the Craftsman Truck Series; he ran only 53 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway before being involved in a crash in August.
  • Darrell Waltrip will be joining the SPEED broadcast to close out the season? Waltrip will join Krista Voda for the Craftsman Truck Series Setup show before joining Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and brother Michael Waltrip in the booth to call the race.
  • James Buescher will be making his Craftsman Truck Series debut tonight? Beuscher will pilot the No. 15 Hyprene Ergon Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports as a teammate to Kyle Busch.

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