Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday Jr. have been the best drivers in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series this season. But they drove more like student drivers on Friday.
Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday Jr. have been the best drivers in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series this season.
But they drove more like student drivers on Friday, spinning, wrecking and smashing their way through the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, leaving their championship battle as close as locked bumpers heading into next week’s season finale.
Kevin Harvick won the race, nearly a full second ahead of fellow Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch, but clearly the focus was on the separate rounds of Demolition Derby the championship contenders played on the mile oval.
Benson, who led the drivers’ standings by six points heading into the race, saw his lead trimmed to three points after enduring numerous wrecks and trips to the garage for work and parts. He finished 26th.
Fortunately for him, Hornaday also had his problems, crashing on the first lap and spending several laps in the garage getting his truck fixed.
Hornaday finished a spot ahead of Benson on the track in 25th to gain the three points. They’ll race for all the marbles at Friday’s season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Said Hornaday: “Johnny and I said we’re going to go fishing and whoever catches a fish wins the championship because we definitely don’t want to win this thing on the racetrack, that’s for darn sure, ’cause we both wreck.”
After Hornaday’s first-lap accident sidelined him for 29 laps, Benson could have racked up a huge points lead just by keeping his Toyota on the lead lap the rest of the night. But he crashed on lap 88 and again on lap 130 and needed extensive repairs to his Tundra.
“It was a bad day for the both of us,” Benson said. “It was miserable.”
But it worked out nicely for Harvick, who earned his third career Craftsman Truck Series win at PIR to go along with his two Sprint Cup victories and a Nationwide win at the track.
Harvick led the final 51 laps.
Unfortunately for Harvick, he owns the truck that Hornaday wrecked, a costly venture, but at least his driver still is in the points race.
“I’m just glad they (Hornaday and Benson) both pulled bonehead on the same night,” he said.
“I told him, 'there’s got to be a better way to shave three points off the lead than that.’”