Benson Barrels to First Kentucky Speedway NCTS Win in the BFT 225
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran Johnny Benson won a Lap 119 four-wide battle for the race lead in Turn 3 and motored on to secure a Kentucky Speedway victory tonight in the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers."
Benson took his first career win at the track after guiding his No. 23 machine to the low line and weaving his way through a three-truck ostacle course that included tonight's second-place finisher Michael Annett in the No. 22. Benson held off his Bill Davis Racing teammate during the closing 32-lap segment and grabbed the third-closest NCTS victory in track history by 0.474 of a second.
"The truck ran good, but it wasn't easy. It may have looked easy, but it was a little slick out there. We got a tremendous run off Turn 2 and got alongside the No. 18 and I thought I was in pretty good shape.
"Then, we both had a run on the No. 22. It was going to be a 50-50 shot whether he was going to get off the gas or turn left. He turned left and I followed him," Benson said of the pass that eventually secured him the win.
The Grand Rapids, Mich., driver registered his second win of the season and second in his past three series starts. His seventh top-five and ninth top-10 finish of the season boosts him three spots in the series standings to first. He will enter the series July 25 race in Indianapolis with a one-point lead in the standings over tonight's third-place driver, Matt Crafton.
Annett netted his first top-five and second top-10 finish of the season in only his third start. He jumped from seventh to second during the decisive four-wide battle in Turn 3.
"Johnny got a great run on the inside of us. I just kept following his line and learned more in 20 laps behind him than I did in two days of practice here. The truck took off and we were able to bring it home second," Annett said. Crafton reeled off his third straight top-five finish of the season and owns two top-five and five top-10 finishes through five career series starts at the track.
"I love coming here. I thought we had the best truck tonight. When we were in dirty air, we could pass him (Benson) and get away. I think if we had gotten the lead we would've won this race. This was great. We just need to keep doing what we're doing for the rest of the year, getting top fives and wins, and hopefully we'll be the best in the end," he said.
Dennis Setzer, the 2005 Kentucky NCTS champ, finished fourth and registered his fifth top-five series finish at the track in his ninth career start. He moved to 10th in the series standings.
David Starr rounded out the race top-five in his No. 11 Red Horse Racing truck. He moved from 12th to 11th in the series standings with his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 finish of the season. He delivered his second top-five and fifth top-10 NCTS finish at Kentucky Speedway in his seventh career start.
Ron Hornaday, Jr., the 2006 "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" winner who entered tonight's race with the lead in the series standings and a 27-point advantage over Crafton, earned his ninth top-10 finish of the season with his second straight 10th-place series showing in Kentucky. He slipped to third in the series standings, but trails the new leader by just five points.
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader Kyle Busch, a former NASCAR Nationwide Series and ARCA RE/MAX Series winner at the track, placed sixth in his first NCTS race on the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Tonight's official attendance was 31,308.
The fifth and final 2008 Kentucky Speedway race weekend will feature amazing, high-speed Firestone Indy Lights and IndyCar Series action. The weekend opens with IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights Fanfest Aug. 8. The day begins when gates open at 3:00 p.m. and will include practice and qualifying sessions before closing with a garage-area autograph session with the full field of IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights international driving stars.
Action continues Aug. 9 with an IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights primetime doubleheader on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. Gates open at 2:00 p.m. Firestone Indy Lights practice begins at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed by an exclusive prerace concert with Indie artist Josh Kelley on the Turn 1 Concourse at 4:30 p.m. Sure-to-be-action-packed open-wheel racing begins at 6:30 p.m. with the "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Pepsi and Edy's." The Firestone Indy Lights "Kentucky 100" will take the green flat at 9:15 p.m.
Tickets for both days are on sale now and can be reserved online through the tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through any Meijer store and by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn Restaurant or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
Kentucky Speedway NCTS Extra:
-Tonight's race marked the third time in track history that two female competitors raced in an NCTS event. Jennifer Jo Cobb guided her No. 74 truck to a 26th-place finish and Chrissy Wallace placed 33rd in the No. 03 machine. Deborah Renshaw charted the best NCTS finish by a female competitor with a 19th place showing July 19, 2005. Wallace did set the new series track record for best start by a female driver by qualifying 12th. Renshaw held the previous distinction with her 19th-place start in 2005.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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