Johnny Benson Uses Pit Strategy To Win At Martinsville

Horn FanSenior Writer IOctober 19, 2008

Johnny Benson wins the Kroger 200 at historic Martinsville Speedway, recording his fifth win in 2008 and his first win at the track.

Benson would use four tire on his only pit stop on Lap 36, to catch the leader and pass him using the fresher rubber. I hope he takes his team out for steaks, buys the first round of beer pitchers for the awesome work by them on pit road.

On the pit stop he came in third, went out sixth and he could have dropped further back in the field. More importantly he's now leading Hornaday by 65 points.

The Kroger 200 race is the shortest truck race of the season, 200 laps, 100 miles on the .526 mile historic Martinsville Speedway.

Some teams will make one pit stop, while someone may gamble running the entire race without pitting and would be exciting to see it happen.

While Dennis Setzer has done it at Ohio, it's never been done at Martinsville.

Ron Hornaday would start from the pole in the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet Silverado Truck. It was his eighteenth career pole and fourth pole of the year.

Hornaday would have quite the scare in the last practice session, spinning his truck but didn't hit any thing.

Todd Bodine will start on the outside pole position in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra truck.

Hornaday's boss, Kevin Harvick rolls off in third, in the No. 2 You Crate/R&L Carrier Chevrolet Silverado truck. Colin Braun is starting fourth in the No. 6 Conway-Freight Ford F-150 truck.

Johnny Benson is starting fifth, in the No. 23 unsponsored BDR Toyota Tundra truck.

On the drop of the green flag on Lap One, Ron Hornaday and Todd Bodine would battle for the lead side by side with Hornaday coming off of Turn Four leading across the stripe.

Kevin Harvick would be running second passing Todd Bodine on Lap Two.

On Lap Four, Johnny Benson would take third away from Colin Braun.

On Lap 11, Ron Hornaday started lapping the slower trucks in the back of the field.

It would be all Ron Hornaday leading the way, with Kevin Harvick running in second, with Johnny Benson running in third, Colin Braun running in fourth, and Todd Bodine running in fifth.

The top five would run that way, unchanging to the first caution flag.

On Lap 36, the first caution flew for Sean Caisse in the No. 9 Lumber Liquidators/Germain Racing Toyota Tundra truck spun into the wall after contact with another truck as the leaders where coming lapping the slower trucks.

Everyone on the lead lap, would make probably their first and only pit stop of the day.

While Johnny Benson took four tires and fuel, his pit crew earned a high five for losing only three positions to do it. When others including Ron Hornaday and Kevin Harvick just got fuel and a few others got two tires.

The battle off of pit road had Ron Hornaday leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Dennis Setzer in third in the No. 18 Dodge Ram truck, Rick Crawford in fourth in the No. 14 Circle Bar/Power Stroke Diesel Ford F-150 truck, and Colin Braun in fifth.

On Lap 39, this was a interesting restart, since Scott Speed in the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota Tundra truck stayed on the track and would restart at the tail end of the lead lap. He was right in front of Ron Hornaday the leader, pulling away from him and staying on the lead lap.

Phil Parson's from Speed TV called it a funky restart. Speed TV thought he might get black flag, but while it was close he didn't jump the restart line.

On Lap 43, Ron Hornaday would pull away from Kevin Harvick by over a second, close to two seconds over Johnny Benson.

On Lap 45, the second caution flew for Dustin Skinner in the No. 03 Germain Racing Toyota Tundra truck with a pink ribbon on the hood for breast cancer awareness month.

He would have contact with Jon Wood in the No. 21 Aqua Sun Motorsports Ford F-150 truck and knocked into the wall. 

Dustin making his debut, would finish in 33rd and 126 laps down to the leader.

So Scott Speed's move running in the outside line works, he didn't jump the restart and looks even better with him back on the lead lap due to the caution.

Interestingly he started shotgun to the field, due to his BDR team making changes to the truck on a impound race and will be exciting to see how he does the rest of the way.

On the Lap 53 restart, Ron Hornaday took the green flag, got a three truck length lead over his boss Kevin Harvick and so far has been the only race leader.

Three laps later the third caution would fly for contact between Erik Darnell in the No. 99 Northern Tool Ford F-150 truck and David Starr in the No. 11 Zachry Toyota Tundra truck.

Darnell would spin around in a 360 degree spin on the bottom of the track with the field going by and resulting in no damage. It happen when Darnell tried to go low to pass teammate Colin Braun with not enough room to clear Starr'a truck.

On the Lap 60 restart, Ron Hornaday clears the lap traffic and gets a several truck length lead on Kevin Harvick.

On Lap 67, Ron Hornaday has a .527 seconds lead on Kevin Harvick in second and over a second lead on Dennis Setzer in third.

On Lap 71, Timothy Peters running in ninth, has done a great job so far and looks really good. Nice to see, since it's a part-time team, is a "Underbird" with a great story and have a pending article on the team.

On Lap 73, Dennis Setzer starts to feel pressure from Johnny Benson in fourth. Benson would take third on the next lap passing Setzer and looks like those four tires where the right call.

After 75 Laps, the top five was Ron Hornaday leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Johnny Benson in third, followed by Dennis Setzer in fourth and Rick Crawford in fifth.

On Lap 82, Johnny Benson would pass Kevin Harvick on the high side for second but would still be 1.4 seconds behind race leader Hornaday.

On Lap 86, Ron Hornaday still has a second lead on Johnny Benson in second, but before the finish Benson will be there battling for the win.

On Lap 90, Hornaday's still leading, right now he has a 64 point lead over Benson and will collect the five bonus points for leading the most laps today at Lap 101.

On Lap 93, the fourth caution flew because of contact between Jon Wood and Ben Stancill in the No. 71 TRG Motorsports and Wood would end up in the wall.

The top five was Ron Hornaday leading, Johnny Benson in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Dennis Setzer in fourth and Rick Crawford in fifth.

On the Lap 98 restart, Ron Hornaday would have a great restart, clearing the lapped Ben Stancill truck. But Johnny Benson would not be so lucky, have Stancill bounce off the curbing into Johnny Benson's truck.

Benson would radio to his team concerned about either a bent wheel or a left rear tire going down.

But his crew chief, Trip Bruce didn't think it hurt anything or that the contact was that bad. You could tell for several laps Benson just rode it out and make sure nothing was wrong with the No. 23.

On Lap 101, Ron Hornaday would claim the five extra bonus points for leading the most laps.

On that lap, Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Menard's Chevrolet Silverado truck would make contact with Jack Sprague in the No. 60 Toyota Tundra truck would spin and get going again resulting in no caution.

On Lap 107, Kevin Harvick in third, starts to catch up to Johnny Benson in second.

On Lap 108, Scott Speed's running in eighteenth on the lead lap and looks really good.

On Lap 112, the fifth caution flag flew coming out for debris on the track. Looked like T.J. Bell in the No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado truck bounced off of a unidentified truck resulting in the debri being left behind.

Top five was Ron Hornaday leading, Johnny Benson in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Dennis Setzer in fourth and Rick Crawford in fifth.

On the Lap 120 restart, Ron Hornaday would take the green with Johnny Benson all over his bumper. They battled it out for several laps, finally Hornaday would pull away.

On Lap 125, David Starr would be spun by contact and get going again without a caution coming out.

On Lap 132, Ron Hornaday still is leading with Johnny Benson right there just waiting for a chance to make a clean pass of Hornaday.

On Lap 140, the sixth caution flew for a spin involving Jeff Green in the No. 40 Westerman Companies Chevrolet Silverado truck and Ben Stancill. This is the third time, Ben Stancill has hit someone today and looks like he needs to learn how to be patient. 

On the Lap 145 restart, Ron Hornaday takes the green gets clean by the lapped traffic, while Johnny Benson did not and results with Hornaday pulling away for not.

On Lap 146, the sixth caution came out for Colin Braun spinning, hitting the inside wall with damage his front-end and rear-end.

The contact could have resulted from Braun trying to keep his truck off of Donny Lia in the No. 81 Chevrolet Silverado truck and getting tapped by Matt Crafton.

On the Lap 153 restart, Ron Hornaday would take the green get by the lapped traffic good, but Johnny Benson would also have a great restart. It would result in a two lap battle between both Hornaday and Benson, including Kevin Harvick in third.

On Lap 155, Johnny Benson would pass Ron Hornaday for the lead, due to Hornaday's left front tire locking up coming into turn three.

On Lap 162, Johnny Benson would start to pull away from Ron Hornaday by several truck lengths. Colin Braun would bounce his truck off of the wall, keep right on going and no caution came out.

On Lap 165, Benson leads would grow to .723 seconds over Ron Hornaday in second.

After Lap 167 the top five was: Johnny Benson leading, Ron Hornaday in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Dennis Setzer in fourth and Rick Crawford in fifth.

On Lap 174, the seventh caution came out for David Starr backing into the wall. He had contact with Brian Scott in the No. 16 Albertson's Toyota Tundra truck.

With the cautions the trucks should be able to make it on fuel now the rest of the way according to Speed TV.

On the restart with 20 laps to go. Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday would both have a great restart with Hornaday on his bumper.

Again Hornaday would have troubles with his left front locking up and Johnny Benson would be able to pull away.

On Lap 185, Scott Speed is running in twelfth, running really well and battle with both Timothy Peters and Sam Hornish, Jr. to crack into the top ten.

On Lap 187, Rick Ren radioed to Ron Hornaday to adjust his brakes, turn around out of the front and add to the rear brakes. (Speed TV)

On Lap 189, it was pretty funny to see Kevin Harvick give Hornaday a lets get moving tap and we know he won't pass him for the position.

On Lap 191, the eighth caution comes out for Jeff Green spinning on the back stretch and ending up facing the wall.

Should be a great restart, with it under ten laps to go it's single file with no lapped traffic to bother the leaders.

Under the caution, Donny Lia would run out of gas with six laps to go and everyone on pit road was concerned if their trucks had enough fuel.

On the Lap 194 restart, Johnny Benson gets a good restart pulls a couple of truck lengths ahead of Ron Hornaday.

When the unthinkable happens on Lap 196, Ron Hornaday would drop to the bottom out of fuel and limp around trying to get to pit road for a splash of fuel.

Hornaday lead 154 of the 200 laps today, ended up in twenty-ninth place and three laps down. He also was miffed that NASCAR didn't throw the yellow for his truck sitting on the bottom and in harms way should a wreck happen near him.

On Lap 198, Kevin Harvick running second would also run out of fuel, limp around to a fifteenth place finish on the lead lap.

Once Johnny Benson realized Hornaday ran out of fuel, he took his foot off of the gas cruised to the win .785 seconds ahead of Dennis Setzer. For the second race in a row there was a multi-truck wreck on the last lap.

Rick Crawford would finish in third, followed by Kyle Busch in fourth and with Todd Bodine rounded out the top five.

Johnny Benson would do the victory burnouts, claim the checkered flag and climb out in victory lane getting a water bottle bath from his crew.

It was different seeing the unsponsored No. 23 BDR Toyota Tundra truck in victory lane with no sponsor on it. But Johnny Benson being the gentleman he is still thanked his sponsors he had on the truck this year.

He thank his crew, was excited to be back in victory lane and leading the points. He also while being interviewed mentioned about watch Jeff Gordon's No. 24 in Sprint Cup's final practice leaded something and tried it out during the race.

Benson would also mention, "Ron and those guys have been doing a tremendous job and our gang have to." Then mentioned, "It's making it a very interesting points chase anyway. It's great." (

I have to agree with him, it's what makes this series NASCAR's best show and why it has so many new fans who are tired of a four team dominance in Sprint Cup watching the trucks.

Ron Hornaday would mention the following when interviewed post race.

"We had a great truck today, that is all you can ask for," said Hornaday. "You try to save fuel, but you can't, especially here at Martinsville. Johnny was alot better up off the corner, so he was probably saving a little bit getting in. I don't know where this puts us but, it was a bad day  for us." (Tom Jensen)

Scott Speed would finish in seventh, he ran a great race and should help him on Sunday in his Cup debut in the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota Camry.

Timothy Peters would bring his underfunded part time truck to a tenth place finish at his home track.

Now I wrote early in the week about J. R. Fitzpatrick, he looked good early in the No. 12 Chevrolet Silverado truck and would finish twentieth on the lead lap in his debut. Not bad for a first race, he will also be in the truck at Phoenix and Homestead.

TRG Motorsports also announced on the NCTS setup that they'll run Fitzpatrick in fifteen races in 2009, but I hope they run him the full season and try for the ROTY with him.

The points now have Johnny Benson back leading with a 65 point lead over Ron Hornaday in second and a 227 points lead over Matt Crafton in third.

The Top Ten in The Kroger 200 were as follows:

1. Johnny Benson

2. Dennis Setzer

3. Rick Crawford

4. Kyle Busch

5. Todd Bodine

6. T.J. Bell

7. Scott Speed

8. Matt Crafton

9. Sam Hornish, Jr.

10. Timothy Peters

The next race is at Atlanta Motor Speedway, next Saturday starting with the NCTS Setup with Krista Voda at 1:00PM.


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