Erik Darnell took the checkered flag 0.005 seconds ahead of Johnny Benson to win the Cool City Customs 200 Saturday afternoon. Darnell survived a late-race restart and a photo finish with Benson to score his first win since Kansas last April. Scott Speed narrowly beat Todd Bodine to finish third; Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top five.

Tracking the Trucks: 2008 Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Erik Darnell took the checkered flag 0.005 seconds ahead of Johnny Benson to win the Cool City Customs 200 Saturday afternoon. Darnell survived a late-race restart and a photo finish with Benson to score his first win since Kansas last April. Scott Speed narrowly beat Todd Bodine to finish third; Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Bodine. Bodine ran second in the first practice and led the final practice before qualifying third in his No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra. Early in the race, Bodine was in place to become the beneficiary of contact between Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague and went on to lead 39 of the 100 laps run; Bodine finished fourth.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race

1. Why didn’t NASCAR throw the caution on the last lap?

On the last lap, Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday Jr. made contact, and the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet went spinning while Busch drove on to a seventh-place finish. Though Hornaday Jr. spun a second time, NASCAR still opted not to throw the caution flag.

While there’s some dignity in giving the fans a green flag finish, the dangers on the track outweigh a green flag finish any day. The first spin was understandable; Hornaday Jr. was able to right his truck only to find himself spinning again. Once the second spin happened, there was no reason for NASCAR not to throw the yellow.

It’s certainly possible Darnell let off of the gas and helped to create the photo finish because his spotter told him Hornaday Jr. had spun. Had the incident occurred at any other time in the race, NASCAR most likely would have thrown the caution flag. The powers that be at NASCAR messed this one up, but don’t expect any kind of explanation for their actions.

2. Should Hornaday Jr. be upset with Busch?

On the last lap of the Cool City Customs 200, Busch drove up into the No. 33 of Hornaday Jr. and sent him spinning. Following the checkered flag, Hornaday Jr. and owner Kevin Harvick looked for Busch in the garage where there was some yelling and finger pointing. Hornaday Jr. tried to explain what had happened on the track and in the garage.

“He just drove into me because he got mad because I took us four-wide and passed him cleanly,” Hornaday said. “Halfway through the race, he showed me he was upset because he lifted the back of the truck up. If he is going to race that way, that is pretty chicken. He doesn’t deserve to be a racer.”

Clearly, Hornaday Jr. had every right to be upset with Busch. The driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet held his line while Busch drove his No. 51 up the track and right in Hornaday Jr. When asked about the incident prior to the Nationwide Series race in Kentucky, Busch shrugged it off but not before he got in a little name-calling.

“I just got into him. Sorry about that,” Busch said before Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway. “But remarks from Harvick and Hornaday are what they’re going to be. They’re big mouths anyway and so we’ll take it and get on with it and hopefully beat them out for this championship.”

Truck Rookie Report
2008 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Colin Braun (No. 6)
Andy Lally (No. 7)
Donny Lia (No. 71)
Justin Marks (No. 9)
Marc Mitchell (No. 15)
Phillip McGilton (No. 22–replaced by Scott Speed at Kansas)
Brian Scott (No. 16)

No. of Rookies in the Race: Six
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: Two; Speed, finished third and Colin Braun, finished sixth

Rookie Of The Race: Speed

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Darnell’s margin of victory, 0.005 seconds, was the closest finish since electronic scoring has been used and the second-closest in series history (Butch Miller edged Skinner by 0.001 seconds at Colorado National Speedway in July, 1995).

For the first time in his Craftsman Truck Series career, Benson sits atop the points standings. Bodine moved up two spots and sits just 15 points behind Benson in second. Hornaday Jr. and Matt Crafton each dropped two spots to third and fourth respectively. Rick Crawford moved up one spot to round out the top five.

Skinner moved up one spot to sixth and sits just 73 points behind leader Benson. Chad McCumbee also moved up one spot to seventh. Sprague, who had problems after contact with Skinner on the first lap, dropped three spots to eighth. Terry Cook remains in ninth, and Darnell moved up two spots to 10th, only 152 points out of the lead.

Quotable

“That’s what truck racing is all about. We’ve had some strong runs this year, but we couldn’t pull it off. I just hope this helps us get our season turned around. I think the finish was a little more exciting than I wanted it to be.” – Erik Darnell, race winner

“Just look at the TV there. That just hurts, bad. I could say that’s probably the first time I’ve been on the losing end of something like that. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to do it again.” – Johnny Benson

Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads the Milwaukee Mile for the Camping World RV Sales 200 Friday night. Last season, Benson won this race after leading 96 laps; the win was his first of four in 2007. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

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Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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