Memphis winner gets lead in points
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 6:05 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — While Ron Hornaday was delighted with his O’Reilly 200 victory, he wasn’t exactly thrilled about moving atop the Craftsman Truck Series points standings.
“Heck, I don’t know if I want to even be in the points lead, the way the points are going,” Hornaday said. “Anybody that leads the darn thing seems to have problems.”
Hornaday led the final 129 laps Saturday night race and endured a green-white-checker finish, holding off runner-up Erik Darnell.
Hornaday was leading on the 199th lap when a crash started between Ted Musgrave and Willie Allen brought out the ninth caution and eventually a red flag as the track was cleared of debris.
On the green-white-checker finish, Hornaday hit his marks and beat Darnell for Hornaday’s second win at Memphis Motorsports Park. Hornaday, who led 139 of 204 laps, won the initial Truck Series race at the track in 1998. The victory was his third of the season and his 36th in the series, and earned him the race’s trophy of Elvis Presley.
“That was probably the hardest race I’ve run this year, so far. I wanted that trophy real bad,” Hornaday said. “That Elvis trophy is the coolest thing in the world.”
Matt Crafton was third, followed by Rick Crawford and David Starr.
“We definitely passed a lot of trucks,” said Crafton, who qualified 16th. “If we could learn to qualify, we’re definitely going to give Ron Hornaday a run for his money.
“We put ourselves back in traffic and beat ourselves up and use tires up trying to get there.”
Johnny Benson, who entered the race as the series points leader, captured the pole with a qualifying speed of 118.229, and Bobby East was next to him on the front row. It was Benson’s third pole of the season.
But Hornaday, who entered the race 70 points behind Benson, was sitting in the second row and immediately tried to force his way into the lead in the first turn. He said he wanted to let Benson know he had something for him right away.
Benson held him off there and led the first 43 laps on the 0.75-mile oval before Hornaday overtook Benson.
Hornaday, driving a Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc., would give up the spot during a pit stop, but regained the advantage 17 laps later and carried it through the race, including coming out first on the last pit stop on Lap 123.
Meanwhile, Benson turned transmission problems into engine problems on Lap 83, sending him to the garage and a 33rd-place finish.
Todd Bodine, who entered the race second in points, 50 behind Benson, had a whirlwind night, spinning three times, causing half of the race’s first six cautions. Yet he stayed on the lead lap and finished 14th.
Hornaday just continued to lead laps, but Darnell in the second spot was stalking the leader, cutting Hornaday’s advantage to less than a second with just under 20 laps to go.
“I really thought (Darnell) had something for me when he started reeling me in,” Hornaday said. “I just had to bear down and play with the brake adjustment a little bit and find my line. It seemed to work out.”
Hornaday never let Darnell get closer and was adding to his lead until the final caution.
After the 9-minute red flag stop, Hornaday was never threatened by Darnell.
“I knew with that green-white-checker, it was going to be tough because Ron had been good on restarts all night,” Darnell said. “He just got away from us a little bit.
“I tried to make it exciting.”