Beth Lunkenheimer · Sunday June 25, 2006
In a Nutshell: After Michigan, Johnny Benson followed his first career Truck Series win the best way he knew how…with another trip to Victory Lane, this time at Milwaukee. Benson outlasted Mike Bliss and Ron Hornaday, taking the lead on lap 160 and never looking back to become the third driver in the Truck Series this season to post back-to-back victories. Jack Sprague and David Reutimann rounded out the Top 5, with Aric Almirola finishing up as the top rookie in 13th place.
Who Should Have Won: Hornaday. Hornaday certainly had the truck to beat Friday night, as he started on the pole and led 69 of the first 74 laps. Hornaday ended up leading a race high 102 laps, but late in the race, the handling went away just enough for Johnny Benson to take advantage. Mike Bliss also led a late charge, passing Hornaday for second with seven laps to go; unfortunately for Bliss, he ran out of time before he could mopunt any type of charge on Benson.
Three Questions to Ponder After this Weekend's Race:
1) How did Kerry Earnhardt not get hit when he spun on lap 83?
After racing his way into Friday night's race, Kerry Earnhardt spun in the middle of a large pack of trucks on lap 83. Somehow, all trucks around him managed to avoid him and go on with some of the best driver maneuvering around a crash we’ve seen this season. Unfortunately for Kerry, he wasn’t able to capitalize after coming out unscathed; his day ended shortly afterwards with engine failure in his Chevrolet, and the #13 truck wound up 35th in the final running order.
2) Will Ted Musgrave be able to shake the monkey off of his back?
Ted Musgrave started off the season with an average finish of third in the first six races, but he has struggled since then, with only one Top 10 finish in his last five starts (7th at Texas). Musgrave's average finish in the last five races is 17.6, including a disappointing 24th at Milwaukee, and because of that he has fallen from second to fourth in the standings, 198 points behind teammate Todd Bodine. In danger of falling out of the championship picture, Musgrave and his team need to recapture that magic they had early in the season…and fast.
3) Can Johnny Benson win the championship this year?
With back-to-back wins, Johnny Benson has gained 102 points on leader Todd Bodine. He now sits in third in the standings, 130 points behind Bodine and only four points behind second place David Reutimann. Along with his two wins, Johnny Benson has 6 Top 5s and 8 Top 10s in 11 starts this season, proof his team has developed the consistency needed for him to be a true title contender.
Todd Bodine still leads David Reutimann in the standings, but Reutimann gained fifty points on Bodine after a solid fifth place finish and now trails by 126. Bodine’s night was a constant struggle, as he was involved in a spin with Erin Crocker that brought out the final caution of the race with 34 laps remaining; he finished a disappointing 20th, one lap behind. As documented above, Johnny Benson climbed into 3rd in points, with Musgrave dropping to fourth and Jack Sprague holding his own in fifth place. Mike Bliss was the big points winner this weekend, with his second place finish causing him to jump four spots in driver points, from 10th to 6th.
“I can’t believe it. That first one was pretty hard, and everyone said that second one would come a little easier. But, I didn’t think it would come today. Rick Ren (crew chief) made some great calls on adjustments tonight. We knew we’ve been close. Hopefully, we have some opportunities to win some races this year. I’d like to win some more.” Johnny Benson, when asked if he could believe he won two weeks in a row
“We were really good at the beginning of the race, and deep into a run we would get real tight. We adjusted on it. Most of practice we weren’t very good, and Dennis Connor and the entire Power Stroke Diesel by Int’l team went to work and put a little bit different package underneath it. Not much, but just a little bit for qualifying…then we qualified decent, and it was pretty good in the race. Over a 50 lap run, we were good for the first 30, we just weren’t good real good for the last 20, and that kind of hurt us tonight. We lost a little bit of track position on a pit stop and we just weren’t able to rebound from that. It’s just tough to pass, and I had to do all of my passing early when I had decent tires, and late in the run I was just kind of riding around.” Terry Cook on his 10th place finish
“We cut a tire, and I just knew it was the left rear, and we took a gamble and just changed lefts only and it turned out to be the right front. That was just a mistake on my part. We should have just gone and changed all four, but the Scotts Ford F-150 was definitely a Top 10 truck tonight. We fell back there a little bit that first part, and then we just needed some long green-flag runs. The last few weeks cautions have hurt us, and I know Erik is in the same boat where we both had Top 10 Trucks and we just got bit by circumstances. We’ve got good enough teams and good enough crews that we’ll rebound back. The trucks are in one piece, but it could have a been a little better.” David Ragan on his 30th place finish
Next Up: The O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway is the next race on the schedule for the Truck Series. It will be shown on SPEED at 9:00 PM on Saturday, July 1st, and is also available on your local MRN affiliate. Todd Bodine is the defending race champion.
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