Bristol, TN (Sports Network) - Johnny Benson used an alternative pit strategy
to perfection and captured Wednesday night's O'Reilly 200 at the Bristol Motor
Speedway. The No.23 Exide Batteries Toyota crossed the finish line seven
lengths ahead of Brendan Gaughan.
The victory was Benson's second of the season and seventh of his Craftsman
Truck Series career.
Travis Kvapil brought the field to the green flag for 200 laps of pure short
track racing. And it wasn't even one lap before the first caution flag flew as
Timothy Peters slammed the outside wall.
Kvapil lasted 16 laps before realizing the Gaughan was faster and he let him
slide past for the lead. Gaughan, who got married last week, quickly pulled
out to a four-length lead. But more caution flags slowed the action to a
The leaders took the opportunity to pit, possibly for the only time all
evening. Mark Martin took fuel only and came out fourth, while Gaughan took
two right-side tires and was fifth on the restart.
Johnny Benson didn't stop and inherited the lead as they went back to green on
lap 49. Gaughan was still on the move, passing Martin for third and taking off
after the leaders. The No.77 Chevrolet got around Jason White for second and
had just one truck between himself and the leader, who still had to make a pit
Kvapil was also following Gaughan up the charts and was third at lap 75. In
fact, Kvapil was taking a peek to the bottom of the track on Gaughan, but he
closed the door. Then Kvapil faked low, went high and took second from
Kvapil got up to Benson's door on lap 97, but a slower car prevented the No.6
Ford from completing the pass.
Tim Sauter broke his rear suspension on lap 103 and Benson took the
opportunity to make his pit stop for fuel and four tires. He would restart
17th. That gave the lead to Kvapil with a fast Kyle Busch, Gaughan, points
leader Mike Skinner and Martin just behind him.
Laps clicked off slowly as three more caution flag periods kept everyone on
The green flag dropped on lap 129 and off they went. Kvapil was still trying
to hold off Busch. Benson restarted in eighth apparently wanting to get back
in the battle too.
Sixty laps to go and Kvapil held 0.494 seconds on Busch. Benson was up to
sixth, three seconds back. Before the field hit the 150-lap mark, Benson was
fourth and challenging Gaughan.
Forty laps remained and Busch was right on Kvapil's rear bumper. Then a debris
caution slowed the field. Seeing the flag, Benson was likely smiling as it
brought him within striking distance of the leaders.
The race restarted with 34 laps to go. Kvapil got off quickly and built his
lead to three lengths. Meanwhile, Benson took third from Gaughan. Derrike Cope
slammed the inside wall and the eighth caution flag would last a little while
with body pieces and fluid all over the track.
The race finally restarted with just 22 laps remaining. This time Busch was
all over Kvapil at the start. They were locked side-by-side in turn four when
they both spun. They kept off the walls, but Benson cruised underneath the two
spinning trucks and the lead was his once again.
The race restarted with 16 laps to go. Benson, who had gotten four tires at
lap 103 was better than Gaughan, who had taken just two right-sides much
earlier in the race. But another caution (Todd Bodine spin) gave Gaughan one
last chance to figure a way past Benson. Gaughan couldn't find one and Benson
took the checkered flag and the victory, his second of the season.
Martin, Skinner and Rick Crawford completed the top-five. For the first time
in 20 races, Skinner failed to lead a lap.
The next race on the truck series schedule is set for Saturday, September 1st
at the Gateway International Raceway.