Michigan Photo Finish to Darnell
Popular local driver Johnny Benson, from nearby Grand Rapids, has one consolation. At lease he can say he was a close second today in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan International Speedway.
How close? How about five one-thousandths of a second (or 0.005). In inches that’s about three, maybe two. It was also the closest finish under electronic timing and the second closest in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. It is the closest finish in MIS track history since electronic timing has been instituted at the speedway for NASCAR events in 1993.
And, yes, it was a photo finish as Erik Darnell edged Benson to give local team owner Jack Roush his 17th victory at MIS, including 10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, four in the Craftsman Truck Series and three in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
“That just hurts, it hurts bad,” said a smiling Benson, who won the Craftsman Truck Series race here in June of 2006. “I was a little concerned at the start and everything was kind of falling apart and then all of a sudden it was going pretty good again. The win was in my grasp and I just got beat at the line, but the fans couldn’t have seen a better race. I was able to get along side of him but I couldn’t clear him. It was just a drag race to the line. He started to do a little side drafting off me and I knew I was in trouble.
“The 99 was really, really strong. I knew I had one shot at them and I kept trying down in turns one and two but I couldn’t do anything down there. I tried that last little bit and thought I had a pretty good enough run on him but he just got back by me.”
Darnell, like Benson, wasn‘t sure who won the race.
“It’s so hard to tell from inside the truck,” he said. “I thought we might have had him by a little bit, but I knew it wasn’t by much. I’d like to say I beat him by 20 truck lengths but we didn’t. It was close and when you’re done you really don’t know whether to come back and grab that checkered flag. You’re just in a state of confusion for a little bit. Once you get that figured out you’re all right.
“The finish was a little more exciting than I wanted it to be. The way you can side draft with these trucks I knew he was going to suck up next to me and pull off and try to get a run so I had to do the same thing to him.”
The race for third place was close to another photo opportunity with Scott Speed edging Todd Bodine and Brendan Gaughan, who crossed the finish line three abreast.
Benson continues to lead the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings, with Todd Bodine a close second, just 15 points behind.