In a Nutshell: In Michigan on Saturday, Johnny Benson had a Truck that was good on short runs, while Mark Martin had a Truck that was good on long runs. Luckily for Benson, four caution flags flew in the final 28 laps of the race, including the final one on lap 97 that set up a green/white/checkered finish. That two lap dash to the end gave Benson the short run he needed to hold off Martin for his first career Truck victory. With the win, Benson became the 17th man to join the fraternity of drivers who have won a race in all three of NASCAR's top series.
Who Should Have Won: Mark Martin. Aside from Benson, Martin was the only driver who really had a truck capable of winning the event. As he always does in his limited runs in the Truck Series, Martin had a truck that was good on the long run. That would have seemed to be the wise choice for Michigan, a track known for long green flag runs. Unfortunately for Martin, this time there were several short runs to finish the race, which prevented him from snatching the lead away from Benson.
Three Questions to Ponder After this Weekend's Race:
1) Will Jack Sprague ever win at Michigan?
Sprague has won Truck races at 16 different tracks. Unfortunately for the Michigan native, none of them have come at Michigan International Speedway. Sprague came home in 10th place this week, missing out on Victory Lane at MIS again. The switch to the dominant Toyota truck this year still didn't give Sprague the victory that has eluded him.
2) How good is Erik Darnell?
Darnell is the highest finishing rookie in the point standings, and with his 12th place run on Saturday, he now has been named Rookie of the Race in half of the races run this season. Darnell is driving for Roush, so he is obviously in decent equipment. He is a survivor of the Roush “Gong Show,” though, so he certainly has talent. He is looking very similar to previous Roush drivers Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch, who were outstanding in Trucks and went on to success at the Cup level.
3) Has Germain Motorsports lost a bit of their edge?
Germain Motorsports looked invincible through the first part of the season. Todd Bodine is still leading the points by a wide margin. However, Ted Musgrave has slipped to third, finishing 23rd this week. Bodine's truck, meanwhile, has been less than dominant the last two races. He won the last race, but was actually down a lap early in the event due to an ill-handling truck. He was down at the beginning of this race as well this time around because the truck was handling very poorly. Germain has some work ahead of them to reassert themselves as the team to beat this year.
With his Top 5 at Michigan, Todd Bodine extended his points lead to 178. In very quiet fashion, David Reutimann has climbed into second place in the point standings, surpassing Ted Musgrave in that department. Johnny Benson and Jack Sprague round out the Top 5 in the standings, which continues to be all Toyota Tundras.
Meanwhile, Rick Crawford has continued his steady climb up the standings. He gained three more positions this week to take over sixth place in driver points. Dennis Setzer, Matt Crafton, David Starr, and Mike Bliss round out the Top 10 in Truck Points.
“Two years ago here (at MIS), Bill Davis gave me a chance to drive his Toyota truck, and it was an awesome opportunity. We had to start last that day and made it to fourth. Today, we started fifth, and I felt like we went to the back and then came back up through the field. Rick Ren (crew chief) and everybody on the team did a great job. I can't thank them enough. All the boys at the engine shop did a great job. Our teammate (Mike Skinner) has a couple of wins, so we finally had to get one of those things, for sure. Skinner's being doing a great job. I'm pretty excited, as you can see. We have a lot of great fans here, that's the best part.” – Johnny Benson
“I take nothing away from Johnny Benson and his team, they did an awesome job today…he was really fast, especially on short runs. The chance we had was a long run and that was where we were strong with our Scotts F-150. And we didn’t at the end; but golly, you know things have gone our way a lot this year and we had our run at the end.” – Mark Martin
“I can’t thank these guys enough. They made a bunch of changes this morning. Wasn’t really that happy with it yesterday and then Happy Hour; we ended up ninth on the sheet. We weren’t happy with it. Made quite a few changes to it today and qualified sixth, then ran in the Top 5 all day. It just took our truck about five or ten laps to get going, and they would always gang up on me. About three would get by me. I wasn’t liking the real short runs there on the end, but all in all, Top 5 is good. I definitely think we’d have had a top-three truck if we would have had some more green-flag runs. When we had about 30 to go, we were hoping to go the rest of the way green. The cautions hurt us a little bit. I just held her to the floor on the last two laps to see what we had. I’ve never had a top five the last four or five years we’ve been here. This place has been a nemesis to me, so I’m glad to have a top five." – Matt Crafton
Next up: The Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 is the next race on the schedule. It will be shown on SPEED at 9:00 PM on Friday, June 23rd. It is also available on your local MRN affiliate. The defending race champion is Dennis Setzer.
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