Madison, IL (Sports Network) - Johnny Benson captured Saturday's Dodge Dealers
Ram Tough 200 at the Gateway International Raceway. The No.23 Toyota truck
crossed the finished line more than one second ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr..
The victory was Benson's second in a row, third of the season and eighth of
his Craftsman Truck Series career.
Mike Skinner brought the field to the green flag for 160 laps of racing, but
his primary competition for the championship, Hornaday Jr., stayed right with
him in the early portions of the race.
The No.5 Toyota led the first 31 laps until Hornaday Jr. pulled his Chevrolet
to the bottom of the track and made the successful pass of the points leader.
Skinner was either having a problem or trying to conserve as Benson also got
around Skinner before they hit the 40-lap mark.
There were just 0.009 seconds separating Hornaday Jr. and Benson and Benson
was still charging. He slid past Hornaday Jr. and the winner of last week's
race at Bristol was back on top.
Then suddenly Skinner was forced to pull his car into the garage giving the
championship a new race leader. It appeared to be a right-side tire that went
down and sent him into the outside wall. The points leader continued to sit in
the garage waiting for repairs to be completed. By lap 70, Skinner was already
down more than a dozen laps.
At the mid-point it was Hornaday Jr., David Green, Regan Smith, Ryan Mathews
and Ted Musgrave. But Benson was fighting his way back to the leaders. By lap
90 he was second again behind Hornaday Jr.
The leaders made their final stops on lap 109 and Green's No.1 Red Horse
Racing Toyota crew got him off pit road in first place. Hornaday Jr. was
second and again Benson's team didn't help the cause as he came out fifth.
Hornaday Jr. waited just half a lap before ducking to the bottom of the track
and beating Green into turn three. Skinner returned to the race with 43 laps
to go, but ended up finishing a distant 28th.
Benson again began to work his way up the ladder. He passed Ted Musgrave for
third with 37 laps to go. Then a red flag for debris cleanup set up a 29-lap
shootout for the win.
Benson immediately went to the outside of Green and it became a two-truck
race. Twenty-four laps to go and Benson pulled right up to Hornaday Jr.'s rear
bumper. The No.23 Toyota looked to the top of the track with 21 laps to go,
but there was no opportunity. He kept at it and with 13 laps remaining, Benson
got alongside Hornaday Jr., kept in the gas and made the pass.
Benson built the lead to more than one second as the laps dwindled to just a
handful amd took the win in relatively easy fashion.
Hornaday Jr.'s second-place finish gives him a four-point edge (2,769 - 2,765)
over Skinner in the championship after 17 races. The next race in the series
is set for Saturday, September 16th at the New Hampshire International