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In A Nutshell: Polesitter Johnny Benson went from first… to last… to first again, winning his fifth career Craftsman Truck Series race in Phoenix Friday night after spinning out on the first lap of the race. Benson finished 0.429 seconds ahead of Mark Martin in the Casino Arizona 150. Mike Skinner, Todd Bodine and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Benson. After racing side by side with teammate Skinner, Benson spun coming out of turn 3 before he could even complete a lap. That seemed to take away his chances for the win; but after several adjustments, Benson was able to charge all the way back through the field, successfully challenging Martin for the lead by lap 121. It was clear by that point Benson had the fastest truck; he easily held on for the win.
Question You Should Be Asking After this Weekend’s Race
1. Does Benson stand a chance at the championship?
Going into the final race of the season, Benson sits a daunting 112 points back from Bodine. Realistically, that means Benson’s hopes for winning the championship are over; Bodine only needs to finish 28th or better to clinch, no matter what he does on the racetrack. Anything can happen, though, that could still give Benson the championship.
Despite winning the race, Benson only gained 25 points on Bodine, closing the margin from 137 to 112. David Reutimann, Ted Musgrave and David Starr round out the top five, all of whom have been eliminated from championship contention.
Ron Hornaday remains sixth in the standings, while Jack Sprague and Skinner improved their positions to seventh and eighth. Rick Crawford was the big points loser this weekend, dropping four spots to ninth after a very disappointing 33rd-place finish. Terry Cook also dropped a spot, but held on to round out the top 10.
“All we’ve wanted to do all year long was come to the track and win races. That was the plan when we unloaded in Daytona, and that’s still the plan now. We’re going to Homestead with the same thing in mind. We’ll go to try to win the race, and the points will take care of themselves. There isn’t anything about this 2006 season that has me upset. We’ve had a great year… and we’ve built a championship-caliber team along the way.” – race winner Johnny Benson
“Johnny [Benson] earned it. They showed they were really fast on new tires in qualifying by smoking everybody. He came from the back of the pack, and we had a great truck and he passed us. They deserve to win tonight. Our strong suit was green flag runs, and we had them early but not late.” – runner-up Mark Martin
“Leading by 112 points surely beats not leading by 112 points. I take my hat of to Johnny, Rick [Ren], and Bill and Gail Davis. They have had a great year and done everything they’ve needed to do. We’ve had a great year, and we’re going to do all we can do to win the championship with a win next week in Homestead.” – points leader Todd Bodine
Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series runs its 25th and final race of the season next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bodine is the defending race winner at the track, and Reutimann holds the qualifying record of 173.116 mph, set in 2005. The Ford 200 at the 1.5-mile oval will start this Friday at 8:00 p.m. ET on both SPEED channel and your local MRN affiliate.