JOHNNY BENSON won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series New Hampshire 200 race on Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire International Speedway, in front of an estimated crowd of 28,000.
This was his fourth victory, all coming this year, and keeps him second in the points. Benson races for Bill Davis Racing, which had four trucks in the race. Polesitter MIKE SKINNER, also a BDR driver, was runner-up, 0.691secs behind. He never technically led a lap as Benson got by him on the first lap. Third was KYLE BUSCH, after the two raced hard without causing each other any aggro - for which Skinner was verbally appreciative after the race.
Points Leader TODD BODINE was fourth, followed by DAVID STARR. Four of the top five finishers were Toyota, which is scheduled to run NASCAR Nextel Cup next season. There were eight lead changes among four drivers, all with B-initialled last names - Benson, Busch, TJ BELL and CLINT BOWYER. Bell finished 21st on the lead lap, and Bowyer 25th, four laps down.
Champ Car World Series driver AJ ALLMENDINGER had a mostly up weekend on his NASCAR debut. He achieved both goals for his first Truck race - to finish and to place in the top 15. Allmendinger finished 13th in a hard-charging battle at the end with veteran Truck racer, DENNIS SETZER, who finished 14th. AJ started in the back of the 36-truck field due to a truck change, but gained 22 positions, more than any other driver. Allmendinger ran as high as twelfth on lap 104 of the 200-lap race.
Allmendinger was 28th in his first practice, fifth in his rookie practice among 15 rookies, and eighth in his final practice. During qualifying, he spun and crashed into the wall in his primary truck, putting him 32nd in the field. As Allmendinger damaged his primary truck, which was a Skinner, he drove the back-up truck, which was a BILL LESTER truck.
Allmendinger's next Truck race will be Talladega in two weeks. In the meantime, he has a Champ Car race next week at Road America. AJ, who now is team-mates with PAUL TRACY at Forsythe Championship Racing, is second in the standings, chasing two-time Champ Car champion SEBASTIAN BOURDAIS.
There were twelve cautions for 50 laps in the Truck race, starting on the first lap with one of Allmendinger's three BDR team-mates, BILL LESTER, who was involved with rookie ARIC ALMIROLA and ROBERT RICHARDSON II. No-one was injured in the many crashes, and some were able to continue and finish the race.
In one incident, TED MUSGRAVE and RICK CRAWFORD had contact. Later, during a caution, Musgrave executed what NASCAR felt was a retaliatory move against Crawford, causing Musgrave to be parked and sent to the principal's office. Crawford is fourth in the standings, and Musgrave is sixth.
The next Truck race is this coming weekend at Las Vegas Speedway, on the newly-configured 1.5-mile tri-oval, with more banking. It is a companion race with NASCAR Nextel Cup, the second of ten races in The Chase. There will be a test day for all to become acclimated.