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In a Nutshell: Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 0.474 seconds ahead of Michael Annett to win the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Dealers at Kentucky Speedway. Benson held off a charge from his rookie teammate with just 18 laps remaining to win his second race this season and take over the points lead. Matt Crafton, Dennis Setzer and David Starr rounded out the top-five finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Benson. Shortly after the green flag flew, Benson made a strong charge behind teammate Mike Skinner and nearly challenged Skinner for the lead. He then took the top spot again for the final time after completing a four-wide pass with just 32 laps remaining, well on his way to his first victory at Kentucky Speedway.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. How did Randy Moss Motorsports fare in their Craftsman Truck Series debut?
On July 3rd, New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss announced he had purchased half of Morgan-Dollar Motorsports from team owner David Dollar, and changed the team name to Randy Moss Motorsports. The team debuted Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway with Willie Allen behind the wheel of the No. 81 Chevrolet.
Allen ran 30th in the first practice and 31st in the second practice, so the team definitely had their work cut out for them. Allen managed to qualify the truck 20th, but just a few laps into the running of the Built Ford Tough 225, Allen had dropped as low as 29th. However, last year’s Truck Series Rookie of the Year persevered throughout the course of the race, and he managed to work his way into the top 15 late in the event. The driver of the No. 81 Rascal Flatts Chevrolet wound up finishing 15th.
Overall, RMM had a successful debut. There’s always an adjustment period with a new team owner – even if he has help from someone else – and RMM is no different. The fact that Allen was able to run inside the top 15 and scored a 15th-place finish speaks highly of his ability as a driver as well as the team’s ability to adapt to change adequately.
Look for the expertise and experience of Dollar to combine with the financial backing of Moss and do great things. Eventually, moving the team into either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series is considered a solid possibility in the years ahead.
On lap 52, Wallace spun hard into the wall through turns 3 and 4 to bring out the fourth caution. The hit crunched the back end of her truck and stuck a hole in the wall, forcing NASCAR to throw a red flag to allow track officials to repair the damage.
When asked what happened, the driver of the No. 03 GEICO Toyota blamed Sprague for taking air off her rear spoiler and causing her to get loose. “We were running really good and got taken out by someone who wasn’t running well,” Wallace said.
When SPEED finally found a replay to show what happened to Wallace, it was clear that her explanation was correct. The two had spent several laps running side-by-side and crowding each other on the track; Wallace bounced off of Sprague’s No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet several times in the lap just prior to the accident.
Sprague may have been responsible for taking air off the spoiler of Wallace’s truck, but she got what she had been handing to Sprague for several laps. Sprague battled an underpowered truck from the drop of the green flag, but that gave Wallace no excuse to run all over him on the track. Hopefully, she’ll learn that she needs to respect drivers around her in order to gain the respect she’ll need if she wants her career to last.
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: 1; Mitchell, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Mitchell, finished ninth
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
In only his third start in the series, Annett was out to make a name for himself. Annett qualified 14th, and pit strategy put his No. 22 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota up front following the sixth caution. Unfortunately, he was unable to hold onto the top spot and ended up finishing second to teammate Benson. Still, that was the rookie’s career best Craftsman Truck Series finish; and that means Annett currently holds an average finish of 6.3 over his short career in this division. He’s also completed 100% of the laps run in the three races he’s started.
The 2008 championship race has gotten even more exciting at the season’s halfway mark. Race winner Benson moved up three spots in the standings due to his win and leads Crafton by just one point heading to ORP next week. Right behind them in third is former points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. Despite an unscheduled green-flag pit stop that left him one lap down, Hornaday Jr. fought his way back to a 10th-place finishing position and sits only five points back in third. Rick Crawford and Skinner each moved up one spot, rounding out the top five in the current standings.
Todd Bodine, who was involved in an accident with just 22 laps remaining, was the biggest loser in the top 10. He dropped three spots and now sits 111 points out of the lead in sixth. Terry Cook moved up two spots and sits seventh in the standings, with Erik Darnell – who dropped one spot – just 14 points behind him. Sprague and Setzer occupy the final two positions within the top 10.
“This track is extremely difficult to pass on. I think we had one of the few trucks able to hug the bottom, and that was a key to winning.” – Johnny Benson, race winner
“Doug Wilcott made a great call tonight, and track position was everything. [Johnny Benson] got by us, and who better to follow than your teammate with all that experience. Our truck came to life after we got behind him.” – Michael Annett, finished second
“I honestly say we had the best truck tonight, but we didn’t have the track position. Track position is everything.” – Matt Crafton, finished third
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series heads north to O’Reilly Raceway Park for the Power Stroke Diesel 200 Friday night. Hornaday Jr. is the defending champion, winning last year after rain set the field by owner points and delayed the start of the race. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.
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