August 23, 2007 - Bristol, TN - Tundra driver Johnny Benson managed to avoid a two-truck collision in front of his Toyota with 21 laps remaining, and then held off all challengers en route to the checkered flag in Wednesday evening's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Tennessee's Bristol Motor Speedway.
Benson was running third late in the race, following race-leader Travis Kvapil and second-place Kyle Busch around the half-mile Bristol oval. When Kvapil and Busch made contact on lap 179 (of 200 laps), Benson avoided the collision and moved his No. 23 Exide Batteries Tundra into the lead. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-driver managed to hang onto first-place for the final 21 laps, holding off challenges from Brendan Gaughan (second) and veteran Mark Martin (third).
"I thought we had a good shot getting to the front even without the 51 (Kyle Busch) and 6 (Travis Kvapil) getting together," said Benson, after the race. "I was surprised that he (Kyle) tried to go by on the bottom. He lost the back of it a little bit and tried to save it, but had to use the 6 to do it -- and they both spun. I thought; 'Wow, that just made life a little bit easier for us.'"
Benson and his Bill Davis Racing team decided to make just one stop during the race, just past the halfway point. "I knew we weren't going to come in on that early pit stop, but I didn't expect the field to come in," explained Benson, who led the race twice for 84 laps. "The guys just made a great call. We talked about coming in on lap 40, but I couldn't. I wasn't sure what the truck was going to do and wanted to get some more laps on it. I wanted to run about 100 laps on the tires, instead of 160."
It was the 33rd victory for a Tundra since Toyota joined the Craftsman Truck Series at the beginning of the 2004 season, and it was the eighth win this year by a Tundra driver.
In addition to Benson's Bristol win, he had a victory earlier this year at Milwaukee. Other Tundra racers with wins this year are Mike Skinner (California, Atlanta, Martinsville and Kentucky), Jack Sprague (Daytona) and Todd Bodine (Texas). Benson now has seven career NCTS wins and tonight's victory was his first career NASCAR victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Other Tundra drivers in the field included Mike Skinner (fourth), Jack Sprague (eighth), David Green (16th), AJ Allmendinger (21st), Todd Bodine (24th), Ted Musgrave (27th), Ryan Mathews (31st) and Terry Cook (32nd).
Skinner did not lead any laps in his No. 5 Tundra -- the first time he has not led a lap in 20 races. Prior to this evening's race, Skinner had led at least one lap in 19 consecutive events (15 races in 2007 and the last four races of 2006).
Skinner continues to hold onto the top spot in the NCTS championship point standings, leading second-place Ron Hornaday by 92 points.
The next race on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is September 1 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
Toyota NCTS Finishing Positions at Bristol Motor Speedway 1st, JOHNNY BENSON 4th, MIKE SKINNER 8th, JACK SPRAGUE 16th, DAVID GREEN 21st, AJ ALLMENDINGER 24th, TODD BODINE 27th, TED MUSGRAVE 31st, RYAN MATHEWS 32nd, TERRY COOK
Toyota Drivers in the NCTS Point Standings following Bristol Motor Speedway ** 1st, MIKE SKINNER 2,681 points 4th, TODD BODINE 2,346 points 6th, JOHNNY BENSON 2,159 points 7th, JACK SPRAGUE 2,027 points 8th, TED MUSGRAVE 1,957 points 14th, TERRY COOK 1,700 points 25th, RYAN MATHEWS 1,146 points 28th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 855 points **Unofficial Point Standings
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