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In a Nutshell: Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 2.530 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win the Camping World RV Sales 200 Friday night at the Milwaukee Mile. Benson took the lead coming off pit road under caution for light drizzle and held on to win his third consecutive race at the West Allis, Wis. track. Landon Cassill, Erik Darnell and Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Benson. Benson and the No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles team looked decent during both practices, running fifth in the first session and 13th in the final. The points leader started on the pole and led 130 of 200 laps on his way to victory lane.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. How did Michael Annett fare in his Craftsman Truck Series debut?
Bill Davis Racing development driver Annett made his Craftsman Truck Series debut Friday night at the Milwaukee Mile. It wasn’t Annett’s first time behind the wheel of the No. 22 Toyota. He practiced and qualified the truck in place of Scott Speed at Texas Motor Speedway a few weeks ago.
Annett’s truck was mediocre at best during both practice sessions. Starting in 14th, Annett started working his way through the field. Early in the race, the driver of the No. 22 got loose and made contact with the No. 9 of Justin Marks and spun right in front of Todd Bodine. He restarted 32nd on the lead lap and managed to work his way up through the field to a sixth-place finishing position.
Annett’s debut was a success. He qualified decent and ran well despite an early-race spin. Speed and Annett will share the driving duties of the No. 22 for the rest of the season; expect the No. 22 back in victory lane with Annett behind the wheel before the end of the season.
2. Does Benson have what it takes to win the championship?
For the second week in a row, Benson sits atop the points standings, and there’s no doubt he and the No. 23 team are running extremely well this season. At this point last season, Benson found himself in sixth place, 424 points behind then leader Mike Skinner. He and the No. 23 team are in the perfect position to contend for a championship right now.
“I think it’s a huge plus to be leading the points right now, for sure,” said Benson. “That’s what our goal is – to win the championship. That’s what it’s been the last two years. We’ve run second. We’ve run third. We’ve won a fair amount of races. I guess that’s good. I think this year has definitely started off way better than it has the last two years, but we’ve had a couple issues too. But, we’ve been consistently fast, and that’s really what you have to ask for – to be fast. And then just make sure things play out the way you want them to play out as the race goes.”
Benson definitely has what it takes to become the next Craftsman Truck Series champion. He and the No. 23 team can run strong races, and his pit crew has the ability to get the job done on pit road. While it’s still early to be awarding the championship to anyone, consistency will be the key this year, and so far Benson is on the right track.
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: 5
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 0
Rookie of the Race: Mitchell, finished 15th
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
In 14 races at the Milwaukee Mile, no winner has ever started outside the top 10. Benson continued that streak by winning from the pole Friday night.
The race was red-flagged for about half an hour for heavy lightning after the field was put under caution for light drizzle.
Chrissy Wallace and John Wes Townley each made their second starts in the Craftsman Truck Series Friday night. Wallace, behind the wheel on the No. 03 Toyota for Germain Racing, finished 20th, three laps down; she finished 18th in her debut at Martinsville in March. Townley piloted the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford for Roush Racing and finished 18th, also three laps down; Townley finished 27th in his debut at Mansfield Speedway in May.
With his win, Benson extended his points lead to 50 over Bodine. Crafton moved up one spot to third while Ron Hornaday Jr. dropped a position to fourth. Rick Crawford remains in fifth, 109 points behind Benson.
Skinner remains in sixth, 134 points out of the lead. Terry Cook and Darnell each moved up two spots to seventh and eighth respectively. Jack Sprague dropped one spot to ninth after helping bring out the fourth caution of the night, and Chad McCumbee, who received heavy damage after contact with Wallace caused the No. 8 to spin into the outside wall, rounds out the top 10.
“It feels great. That pit stop is what won this thing. I cannot believe we won three in a row here. Gotta really thank the fans. That lightning was unbelievable.” – Johnny Benson
“These guys build a great truck. I can’t thank these guys enough. It’s awesome to be in this position now.” – Matt Crafton, finished second
“You have got to be kidding me!” – Jack Sprague on his radio when he spun in front of the field to bring out the fourth caution
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads to Memphis Motorsports Park for the O’Reilly 200 next Saturday night. Last season, Travis Kvapil won this race; Kvapil made contact with leader Brad Keselowski with seven laps remaining to take the lead and the win. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.