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In a Nutshell: Ron Hornaday Jr. took the checkered flag 0.960 seconds ahead of Johnny Benson to win the Camping World RV Sales 200 Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet held off a hard-charging Benson in a three-lap shootout to win his second consecutive race. Travis Kvapil, Erik Darnell and Rick Crawford rounded out the top-five finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Hornaday Jr. Hornaday Jr. started on the outside pole after qualifying was rained out and took the lead going into turn 3. After dominating for most of the race only to briefly drop out of the top spot, the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet managed to avoid a spinning Timothy Peters and retake the lead from Kvapil with 42 laps to go – and never looked back. Hornaday Jr. led 149 of the 200 laps run to score his fifth victory this season.
Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race
1. What exactly happened on pit road after the checkered flag flew?
With just nine laps remaining in the Camping World RV Sales 200, David Starr and Todd Bodine made contact, sending Bodine spinning into the wall. It was the third incident Starr was involved in at NHMS, and the second involving a Germain Racing driver. On the cooldown lap, Bodine rammed the back of Starr’s No. 11 K&N Filters Toyota, clearly showing his displeasure with the incident.
Once the two trucks got to pit road, Starr was quickly confronted by a large group of Germain Racing crew members… and a fight broke out. NASCAR officials were able to break it up briefly, but the crew members were quickly back at it.
“David, when he has a good truck, has a tendency to drive just a little bit beyond the means of the truck,” said Bodine afterwards. “My crew was pretty upset, obviously. He didn’t take one of their trucks out, he took ’em both out. He took my teammate [David Reutimann] exactly the same way… he drove into both of us. Drove into the left-rear quarterpanel and took us both out.”
Bodine was understandably upset… but there was certainly a better way for the Germain Racing employees to handle their displeasure, and Starr wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion about it.
“I don’t have a problem with a driver coming over and wanting to come over and talk to me, but a crew member coming over and putting a finger in my face? That’s a totally different deal,” said Starr. “I don’t play that way. We race hard on the racetrack. This is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. You see this week-in and week-out. But to have a crew member come and put my window net down and put a finger in my face? I don’t play that game.”
It’s a shame to see so much blame pointed at Starr, when Reutimann was in an identical incident involving Mike Skinner where Skinner was on the receiving end. A combination of a flat track and slick conditions made it difficult to maintain control of the trucks as they went into the corners Saturday. Of course, this isn’t to say Starr wasn’t to blame, but there was no need for Bodine’s crew to get involved in the incident as well.
All parties were called to the NASCAR hauler, and there’s no doubt significant penalties will be coming down Tuesday from officials.
2. Is the championship battle turning into a two-man race?
Following the Camping World 200 last weekend at Gateway International Raceway, the top seven in the points standings were separated by just 307 points; but now, following the running of this week’s race, the top four are separated by 309 points. A combination of great runs by both Benson and Hornaday Jr. in the last several weeks have allowed the two to run off and leave the rest of the field behind.
As Hornaday Jr. and Benson continue to run well each week, they’ll continue to gain quite a bit of ground on the rest of the field – and at this point, they’ll need to make a mistake for others to catch up. The real race is going to be who between the two of them manages to come out on top when it comes to Homestead-Miami in November. It should be business as usual for the Craftsman Truck Series – another great battle for the title.
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: 3
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Scott, finished eighth
Rookie of the Race: Scott
Early in the race, Scott got sent to the back of the field under caution, after ignoring multiple requests from NASCAR to leave room on the track for the Lucky Dog to get by him. But he fought back, recovering for just his second top-10 finish of 2008.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
Earlier this week, Hornaday Jr. admitted he used testosterone to treat a hyperactive thyroid, prior to the substance being added to NASCAR’s banned substance list. On Friday, NASCAR cleared Hornaday Jr. of any wrongdoing, claiming the drug was used for a medical problem the driver continues to struggle with.
In the battle for the championship, Benson remains the points leader – but another win by Hornaday Jr. means a 20-point gain on the lead; Hornaday Jr. now sits just 74 points back from Benson. Matt Crafton remains in third, but is now 242 points out of first. Crawford, who moved up two spots, and Bodine, down one spot, round out the top five finishers.
Darnell’s top-five run moved him up one spot in the standings to sixth, but Skinner, who dropped one spot, is close on his tail in seventh. The rest of the top 10 remains the same with Jack Sprague leading Dennis Setzer and Terry Cook.
“Oh, Johnny [Benson], he always saves it for the last 50 laps, don’t he? He was running sixth or seventh again… but he drove right up to the front, so he’s going to be a tough competitor, and it’s going to come right down to [the final race at] Homestead again. It’s been a long week, but I have to thank everyone that’s supported me on this deal.” – Ron Hornaday Jr.
“We were running great lap times, and it just took my truck three or four laps to get going after a restart. We definitely had a long-run truck, and we had a bunch of cautions there at the end that hurt me.” – Travis Kvapil, finished third
Up Next: The Craftsman Truck Series next heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 Saturday night. In 2007, Kvapil survived multiple side-by-side battles with Benson and Jon Wood to win his fourth race of the season. Coverage begins at 9:00 p.m. ET on SPEED; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.