It all came down to Homestead in the Truck Series, with Johnny Benson leading by a mere three points over Ron Hornaday.
We truck fans knew, it was going to be a classic battle between two Wiley veterans, whoever finished ahead of the other would be the champion and they delivered just that a classic to the checker's finish.
Bring a fitting end to Craftsman, 14 year reign, as title sponsor of the truck series for NASCAR's most exciting series and thank you Craftsman for a job well done.
On Friday night, under the lights at Homestead, Johnny Benson would win the war beating Ron Hornaday by 0.400 of a second for the 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship.
Johnny Benson edged Ron Hornaday by seven points, it was his second career NASCAR title and his first was being the 1995 Nationwide Series Champion. He breaks terry Labonte's record of 12 years between titles, making it 13 years.
Johnny Benson also joins Bobby Labonte and Greg Biffle as the only drivers too have won two out of three titles in NASCAR top three elite series.
Todd Bodine would win the Ford 200, on a late pass of rookie Brian Scott, getting his third win of 2008 and his crew deserves the credit for making the necessary adjustments on pit stops for him to win.
Mike Skinner in the No. 5 Tundra Sponsored Toyota Tundra truck won the pole, his 47th of his career. Colin Braun in the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 truck started on the outside pole position.
Kevin Harvick in the No. 2 American Commercial Lines Chevrolet Silveradotruck would start third. Ron Hornaday in the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet Silverado truck started fourth and sure his boss will be a benefit to him starting beside him.
Dennis Setzerin the No. 18 University Dodge Dealership Dodge Ram truck starts fifth and will need a job next year. Ray Dunlap, mentioned pre-race that Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia may not be back in 2009.
Johnny Benson, the points leader, in the No. 23 ExideBatteries Toyota Tundra truck will start eighth and it was nice to see Exide step up to sponsor the truck.
During the warm-up laps, Scott Speed driving the No. 22 Red Bull Toyota Tundra truck in his last truck race was to start seventh. But had to come to pit road, his crew jacked up his truck and work to get his transmission unstuck. Speed would have to start at the tail end of the field.
On Lap One start, Mike Skinner would take the green with Colin Braun beside him, coming out of turn one Kevin Harvick takes the lead making a three wide pass and would pull away from both Skinner and Braun.
On Lap Two, Ron Hornaday was running in sixth, while Johnny Benson was running in ninth and struggling on the bottom.
On Lap Three, Johnny Benson got trapped on the bottom, with trucks passing him on high side and drops back to 12th place.
On Lap Four, Kevin Harvick leads Mike Skinner by 1.244 seconds, Ron Hornaday running in fifth, while Johnny Benson is running in thirteenth.
On Lap Seven, the first caution came out for Ryan Hackett in the No. 78 JandR Supply.com Ford F-150 truck spun coming out of turn four.
Kyle Busch would pit, to repair his front splitter that was dragging on the track and would restart tail end of the lead lap.
The top five under caution was as follows: Kevin Harvick was leading, Mike Skinner was second, Ron Hornaday was third, Erik Darnell in the No. 99 Northern Tool & Equipment Ford F-150 truck in fourth, and Dennis Setzer was fifth. Johnny Benson was 12th.
On the Lap 10 restart, Kevin Harvick took the green pulled away from Mike Skinner who had Ron Hornaday trying to pass him.
Coming out of turn two, Kevin Harvick would slow to let Ron Hornaday try to pass for the lead, but Mike Skinner would squeeze between the two trucks and end up leading Lap 11.
On Lap 12, Ron Hornaday would go low with Kevin Harvick's help and takes the lead and gets five bonus points for leading.
On Lap 13, Mike Skinner drops back to fifth being passed by Erik Darnell and Dennis Setzer.
On Lap 14, Ron Hornaday leads, Kevin Harvick on his bumper and Erik Darnell's trying to get around Harvick for second.
Since the restart on lap 10, Kyle Busch has been making both three and four wide passes making his way back up front, running in thirteenth right now.
On Lap 16, Ron Hornaday pulls away, while Kevin Harvick in second is holding up Erik Darnell in third.
By Lap 17, Johnny Benson has battled back to eighth and seems like his trucks handling better.
On Lap 23, Ron Hornaday leads, with Kevin Harvick right behind him in second, and Erik Darnell's running a second back of them.
Speed TV comments about Kevin Harvick communicating through spotters to Ron Hornaday, telling lines to try and run lower in turns two and three.
On Lap 25, Johnny Benson's truck starts to get bad, with it very loose and on the first pit stop will need adjustments.
On Lap 27, Terry Cook in the No. 59 Team ASE/Harris Trucking is running in fifth, looks good and hoping for a good finish in Team ASE's final truck race as a sponsor.
On Lap 28, Ron Hornaday has a 0.100 second lead on Kevin Harvick and two second lead on Erik Darnell in third.
On Lap 29, while Ron Hornaday still leads, Kevin Harvick in second could pass him if he wanted too, but knows winning the championship is more important.
On Lap 30, Johnny Benson still hanging onto eighth, with handling issues and hasn't advanced forward.
After 34 Laps, the top five was: Ron Hornaday is leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Erik Darnell in third, Terry Cook in fourth, and Dennis Setzer in fifth.
On Lap 38, Terry Cook running in fourthis trying to pass Erik Darnell in third and Mike Skinner has dropped back to ninth.
On Lap 40, Ron Hornadaystill leads, he's getting loose with Kevin Harvick still coaching him in second. Terry Cook passes Erik Darnell for third and pulls away after Harvick.
On Lap 42, the second caution comes out for debris on the track.
On Lap 43, all the lead lap trucks will pit, the top five off of pit road where: Ron Hornaday leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Erik Darnell in third, Travis Kvapil in fourth, and Kyle Busch was fifth.
Johnny Benson came in and went out in eighth. Speed TV comments on, NASCAR giving Benson a break, they lost the tape on the rear spoiler and on the next pit stop they will have to put tape on it.
On the Lap 47 restart, Ron Hornadaytakes the green, but his truck had adjustments done and his truck isn't handling like before the pit stop. Kevin Harvick takes the lead, with both Erik Darnell and Kyle Busch would also pass Hornaday dropping him to fourth.
On Lap 48, Kevin Harvick's leading by several truck length. Kyle Busch passes Erik Darnell for second and Ron Hornaday is hanging onto fourth.
On Lap 50, Terry Cook in fifth, starts putting pressure on Ron Hornaday in fourth.
On Lap 51, Kyle Busch will pass Kevin Harvick who gets loose and a lap later he's leading Harvick by half a second.
On Lap 52, Ron Hornaday's truck seems to be coming back, he has Terry Cook and looks like he's catching Erik Darnell in third.
On Lap 53, Ron Hornaday has put a couple of truck lengths on Terry Cook and looks like he's catching Erik Darnell in third.
On Lap 55, Kyle Busch leads by a second over Kevin Harvick in second and close to two seconds on Erik Darnell in third.
After 58 Laps, the top five was: Kyle Busch leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Erik Darnell in third, Ron Hornaday in fourth, and Terry Cook in fifth.
On Lap 61, Kyle Busch leads, but Kevin Harvick has erased the lead and is putting pressure on him for the lead.
On Lap 63, Erik Darnell is running in third, looks good and has six to seven truck length on Terry Cook running in fourth having passed Hornaday.
On Lap 64, Ron Hornaday in fifth, seems to have his truck getting better after adjustments on the first pit stop that didn't help and made his 33 truck worse.
On Lap 65, Kyle Busch leads Kevin Harvick by 0.387 seconds. Ron Hornaday running fifth and Johnny Benson is running in seventh.
On Lap 67, Ron Hornaday would re-pass Terry Cook for fourth. Johnny Benson in seventh, feels pressure from Brian Scott in the No. 16 Albertson's Toyota Tundra truck for the position.
On Lap 69, Brian Scott would go low, passes his teammate Johnny Benson for eighth.
After 71 Laps, the top five was: Kyle Busch leading by 2.060 seconds, Kevin Harvick in second, Erik Darnell in third, Ron Hornaday in fourth, and Terry Cook in fifth.
On Lap 75, Kyle Busch leads Kevin Harvick by over three seconds, Ron Hornaday would pass Erik Darnell for third and Johnny Benson running in eighth.
On Lap 77, Kyle Busch with a three second lead has been making three and four wide passes of lapped trucks.
On Lap 79, Johnny Benson in eighth, starts feeling pressure from Timothy Peters in the No. 17 Hayes Iron & Metal/Strutmasters.com Toyota tundra truck in ninth, and Dennis Setzer in 10th.
On Lap 80, Dennis Setzer passes Timothy Peters for ninth and a lap later he would pass Johnny Benson for eighth.
On Lap 82, Kyle Busch is flying as the leader, has lapped up to the twenty fourth position. Kevin Harvick is three seconds back in second and Ron Hornaday's in third's 4.782 seconds behind the leader.
After 85 Laps, the top five was: Kyle Busch is leading, Kevin Harvick in second, Ron Hornaday in third, Erik Darnell in fourth, and Terry Cook in fifth.
On Lap 88, Terry Cook passed Erik Darnell for fourth. Ron Hornaday's running third and Johnny Benson's running ninth right now.
On Lap 89, Todd Bodine in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra truck, passes Tmothy Peters for 10th.
On Lap 91, the third caution flag comes out for debris on the track and the second debris caution tonight.
Johnny Benson has to come to pit road for tape on the rear spoiler.
On Lap 92, the lead lap trucks all pit for fuel, tires, and adjustments. The top five off of pit road was: Johnny Benson leading, Ron Hornaday in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Travis Kvapil in fourth, and Brian Scott in fifth.
Johnny Benson on a great call by his crew chief, Trip Bruce takes two tires, puts tape on the rear spoiler and comes out leading.
What a call by Trip Bruce they needed to do it, Ron Hornaday has dominated the race so far between the two drivers.
Kevin Harvick slowed on pit road to let Ron Hornaday out in front of him. Harvick probably would be the leader right now, getting out ahead of Benson, had he not done that.
On the Lap 95 restart, Johnny Benson takes the green with Ron Hornaday on his bumper. Hornaday tries on the bottom for the lead but can't make the pass stick.
On Lap 98, Ron Hornaday would pass JohnnyBenson for the lead but Kyle Busch goes low and splits the two for the lead.
On Lap 99, Kyle Busch would be leading by several truck lengths over Johnny Benson in second and Ron Hornaday in third.
On Lap 100, Johnny Benson re-passes Kyle Busch for the lead and Ron Hornaday tries for second go's low to Busch but can't make it stick.
On Lap 101, Johnny Benson's leading with Kyle Busch in second trying to help and Ron Hornaday has Kevin Harvick catching back up to the top three.
On Lap 102, Kyle Busch takes the lead, Ron Hornaday takes second, but Johnny Benson battles back trying to re-pass Hornaday for second and can't make it stick.
On Lap 103, Johnny Benson re-passes Ron Hornadayfor second. Terry Cook and Brian Scott would both pass Kevin Harvick dropping him to six. Cook takes fourthand Scott takes fifth.
On Lap 104, Johnny Benson holds onto second, as Ron Hornaday can't pass him by going on the low side and Brian Scott would pass Terry Cook for fourth.
On Lap 105, Ron Hornaday would finally, pass Johnny Benson for second and pulls away from Bensonby several truck length.
On Lap 106, Brian Scott passes Johnny Benson for third, and looks like Benson's two tire stop isn't going to work for him.
On Lap 108, Kevin Harvick would pass Johnny Benson for fourth.
On Lap 110, Kyle Busch leading, Ron Hornaday in second and Brian Scott in third are all running similar lap times.
On Lap 112, Brian Scott would pass Ron Hornaday for second.
On Lap 113, both Brian Scott and Ron Hornaday would run side by side for most of the lap, but Scott would hold onto second.
On Lap 114, Johnny Benson in fifth starts to get pressure from Todd Bodine in sixth. What a job Bodinehas done today with a ill handling truck and his crew has done a great job making adjustments on it.
On Lap 116, Todd Bodine will pass Johnny Bensonfor fifth. Kyle Busch who's leading, has Brian Scott reeling him in and under two seconds back on.
After 119 laps, the top five was: Kyle Busch leads by 2.2 seconds over Brian Scott in second, Ron Hornaday in third, Kevin Harvick in fourth, and Todd Bodine in fifth.
Ron Hornadayin third, holds a five second on Johnny Benson in sixth.
On Lap 120, Brian Scott running in second, has Ron Hornaday running in third right on his bumper, and Hornaday's trying to catch him for second.
On Lap 122, Todd Bodine would pass Kevin Harvick for fourth. Dennis Setzer passes Johnny Benson for sixth.
On Lap 123, Johnny Benson starts getting pressure from Terry Cook for seventh. A lap later Scott Speed in ninth joins them.
On Lap 125, Scott Speed passes both Johnny Benson and Terry Cool for seventh.
On Lap 126, Kyle Busch leads by 2.3 seconds on Brian Scott in second.
On Lap 127, the fourth caution comes out for Mike Skinner who blows a right front tire and scrapes the wall.
Most of the front running lead lap trucks stay out, the only takers for pit stops where Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday, their also were a lot of trucks from eighth back that would pit.
While Kyle Busch, along with several other trucks took only two tires, Ron Hornaday would take four tires.
Speed TV lets use know Hornaday also has radio issues, he can hear his crew, but he can't communicate to his crew and Rick Ren.
The top five under caution was: Brian Scott leading, Todd Bodine in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Dennis Setzer in fourth, and Scott Speed in fifth.
Johnny Benson on the restart is sixth and Ron Hornaday will be in 13th.
On the lap 130 restart, Brian Scott would take the green with Todd Bodine on his bumper and Kevin Harvick going on the low side to take the lead.
Coming out of turn three, Todd Bodine would pass Brian Scott for the lead.
Ron Hornaday would make up three positions running in 10th and Johnny Benson would pass Scott Speed for fifth.
On Lap 131, Ron Hornaday passes Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Menard's Chevrolet Silveradotruck for ninth. Kyle Busch would pass Johnny Bensonfor fifth.
On Lap 133, the fifth caution flag comes out for Taylor Malsam in the No. 24 Stocks For Tots Toyota Tundra truck does a 360 degree spin after contact.
This sets up a green/white/checkers finish.
The top five under caution was: Todd Bodine leading, Brian Scott in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Dennis Setzer in fourthand Kyle Busch in fifth. Johnny Benson restarts sixth and Ron Hornaday in ninth.
On the Lap 135 restart, Todd Bodine takes the green pulls away from Brian Scott in second. Ron Hornaday back in ninth has a hard time getting around Scott Speed who started slow and stacked everyone up behind him.
On Lap 136, the white flag lap, Ron Hornaday would bump Scott Speed get him loose and draft pass him with help from Matt Crafton. Hornaday sets off after Johnny Benson who would be passed by Travis Kvapil for sixth.
Todd Bodine would take the checkers, for his third win of 2008 and Johnny Benson would win the championship by beating Ron Hornaday by 0.400 of a second.
Todd Bodinedid the victory burnouts, take the checkers and would celebrate with his crew in victory lane.
Bodine post race, congratulated Johnny Benson for winning the championship and Toyota for having a great year.
Brian Scott would record his best finish a second, last week the rookie was fourth and he's going to be exciting too watch in 2009 as he moves to Bill Davis Racing.
Kevin Harvick came in third, ran a really great race and always fun too watch in trucks when he's driving.
Post race sitting on pit road with his wife Delana beside him would congratulate Johnny Benson, Bill and Gail Davis racing. We got beat on pit strategy and it is what it is.
Kyle Busch would end up in fourth and Dennis Setzerwould round out the top five.
Johnny Benson after a delay from NASCAR would be told he's the Champion and would start doing some burnouts.
Ron Hornaday would make the following comments, post race some to Speed's Adam Alexander.
"Hornaday had radio problems late in the race and couldn't communicate to crew chief Rick Ren that he preferred not to pit under caution on Lap 126." (nascar.com)
"It was a awesome day for us until that last call," Hornaday said. "We didn't know those guys [trucks that came out of the pits ahead of Hornaday] were going to take two tires and get out in front of us. But Johnny Benson and those guys had a great year and we came up one position short." (nascar.com)
"I'm not going to second guess [crew chief] Rick Ren," Hornaday said. "If we come back and won the race, it would have been the call of the century. We lost it." (scenedaily.com)
"It was a good race. Johnny and I raced hard. It was a good call by Trip Bruce," Hornaday said. (scenedaily.com)
Ron Hornaday would than come to the championship celebration on the front stretch, douses JB with a bottle of water, gives him a congratulations hug and gives the crew members the thumbs up.
It was cool to see both Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday show so much class and sportsmanship to JB, the 23 team and the Davis's. Obviously had Ron Hornaday stayed out, he would have won the title.
Johnny Bensonpost race with Ray Dunlap made a few of these coments to him.
"Words can't describe this". said Benson, following the race. "I was kind of crying down the backstretch, it's fairly emotional, obviously. Trip [Bruce, crew chief] told me early on that if we weren't the fastest, we'll definitely do what we have to do to be the smartest.
"It was only fun at the end of tonight's race-it wasn't fun at the beginning or the middle. I knew Trip Bruce was going to make some pretty gutsy calls, and that's what we had to do. Ron Hornaday had a great truck tonight but we just ended up beating them on a little bit of strategy work." (truckseries.com)
"I have to thank my wife, Debbie and both my kids," added Benson. "They've been at every race I've won at this year and I have to really thank Bill and Gail Davis (team owners)-this is for them. They've given me a great opportunity to come and do this. I'm glad that we could get that title for them. it means more to me to get that for them because they've done so much for me." (truckseries.com)
"They made a mistake," Trip Bruce said. "I think they would have beat us if they stayed out. But we ran hard to the end and it's our championship." (Mike Harris)
"All these guys behind me that worked on this thing are great friends. We've worked very hard to make this happen. Friday was about Trip Bruce making the right calls." (nascar.com)
"Hornaday is what makes this so meaningful because he's a hell of a racer," Benson said.(scenedaily.com)
It was really nice to see Bill and Gail Davis finally become Champions, they deserve it and hope they don't sell their truck operation.
Please note, I didn't mention anything about Johnny Benson not having a job, since he's leaving Bill Davis Racing and they didn't release him or want him to go.
Top Ten Results from the Ford 200
1. Todd Bodine
2. Brian Scott
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kyle Busch
5. Dennis Setzer
6. Travis Kvapil
7. Johnny Benson
8. Ron Hornaday
9. Terry Cook
10. Scott Speed
See you Feb. 2009, for the kick-off of Camping World truck Series at Daytona International Speedway, hopefully from the front stretch and enjoy the off season.
It's been a blast recreating, the NCTS races from NASCAR's best series on here. Hope you have enjoyed them as much as I've enjoyed writing them.