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In a Nutshell: Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 0.484 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the Power Stroke Diesel 200 Friday night at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Benson held the lead in a two-lap shootout with Hornaday Jr. to score his second win in a row, extending his points lead in the series to 15 over the defending Truck Series champ. Erik Darnell, Matt Crafton and Shelby Howard rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Hornaday. Hornaday Jr. qualified fourth and clearly had one of the strongest trucks on the track, taking the lead just five laps into Friday night’s race. The driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet held off Benson through multiple restarts before relinquishing the lead when the driver of the No. 23 used the high line to make a pass with 38 laps left. In the end, Hornaday Jr. led 153 of 200 laps, but was never able to retake the lead from Benson.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. Should Bobby East be disappointed by his run?
East ran third in the first practice and ninth in the final practice at O’Reilly Raceway Park, but when qualifying came around, he led the pack. Starting on the pole, the driver of the No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford had the advantage of controlling the start of the race and managed to hold the lead for five laps before Hornaday Jr. took the point.
But East remained competitive for the rest of the race’s first half, never losing touch with the leaders while remaining in position for a solid finish. However, following a restart on lap 120, East found himself in a three-wide battle with Brendan Gaughan and Stacy Compton for position. Unfortunately, Gaughan got loose, which in turn got Compton loose and sent East hard into the outside wall and up onto two tires. East managed to keep his No. 09 Chevrolet on the lead lap, but ended up finishing 19th with a damaged racecar.
“I was just getting clarification from Brendan and Stacy. I guess Brendan ran Stacy up the track, which put him into me. I was already up the side of his door, and he put me into the fence and ruined our night,” East said. “We were running in the top five. We had a top-five run going, and that little incident pretty much ruined our night. I really hate the result for the Zaxby’s Ford F-150 team. They put a lot of hard work into tonight and for it to end the way it did, I feel real bad for them.”
East has a reason to be upset, as he was an innocent victim that was on the outside of the track. When Gaughan got loose, Compton probably could have controlled his truck and kept from hitting East had he not made some slight contact with the No. 30 of Todd Bodine. East could have easily scored a top-five finish had he not been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On lap 136, while Busch and McCumbee were racing for 11th place, the two made contact, sending McCumbee hard into the outside wall. Following the accident, McCumbee pulled his No. 8 Malcolmson Construction Chevrolet up in front of Busch to show his displeasure. When asked about the incident, McCumbee placed the blame solely on the driver of the No. 51 Toyota.
“I felt what happened,” McCumbee said. “That’s two weeks in a row the same truck number is the reason we’re out of this race; I’m not too happy about it. Really don’t have a whole lot good to say right now, so it’s usually not good to say anything.”
At a first glance, it looked like McCumbee blew a right-front tire, but a different angle showed some slight contact from Busch going into the corner. As he got loose, McCumbee locked up his tires and went straight into the outside wall as a result.
While the driver of the No. 8 has a reason to be upset after contact with Busch took him out of the race, the incident didn’t look like anything more than tough racing. Both Busch and McCumbee wanted that 11th position, and the two ended up making some contact. Unfortunately, McCumbee got the worst of it and ended up with a DNF and a 31st-place finish.
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; Lia, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Lia, finished ninth
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
The Power Stroke Diesel 200 had 11 cautions, tying the record for the most ever at O’Reilly Raceway Park.
The win allowed Benson to remain the points leader over Hornaday Jr. in second, who moved up one spot as he tries to defend his title. However, Hornaday’s deficit dropped from five to 15 as a result of his second place finish at ORP. Crafton fell to third, and sits just 31 points behind Benson with 11 races to go. Rick Crawford and Mike Skinner remain in fourth and fifth in the standings, respectively.
Bodine remains in sixth but lost 90 points to leader Benson; he sits 204 back. Darnell moved up one spot to seventh, and Terry Cook dropped one position to eighth. Jack Sprague remains in ninth and David Starr moved up one spot to round out the top 10, 322 points out of first.
“It stinks. Our car was good, it was just that much off.” – Runner-up Ron Hornaday Jr.
“It was a pretty good night for our Northern Tool + Equipment team. We just kind of missed it. The truck was good again. We qualified well, we ran up front all night, and that’s what we’ve got to keep doing. We’ve got to keep knocking out these top fives and try to make up points on these guys to get back in the championship hunt.” – Erik Darnell, finished third
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series takes a weekend off and heads to Nashville Superspeedway for the Toyota Tundra 200 on Saturday, August 9th. In 2007, Travis Kvapil beat Hornaday Jr. in this race by nearly 2.5 seconds to score his third win of the season. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.