Camping World Truck Series

NCWTS: Throwback Thursday – 2008 Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan

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RIDGELAND, Miss. — Michigan International Speedway is a track synonymous with speed and a place that has had its fair share of close finishes in both the Cup Series and the Camping World Truck Series. For this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday,” we’ll take a look back at the closest finish in Truck Series history that took place at Michigan — the 2008 Cool City Customs 200.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series always puts on great racing no matter the venue, but on the bigger tracks, like Michigan, the action seems to ramp up as the aerodynamics of the truck allow for close racing and ample amounts of passing, both of which came into play that day in June 2008.

For the majority of the race, the lead would swap between a number of drivers, including: polesitter Todd Bodine, Scott Speed, Johnny Benson, Ron Hornaday, Jr., and others, with the lion’s share of the laps led going to Bodine and Speed at 39 and 17 laps led, respectively.

With 25 laps left, Erik Darnell, who was driving for Roush Fenway Racing at the time in the No. 99 truck, took the lead from Hornaday and looked to be well on his way to his first Truck Series win of the season, but the final caution of the day flew with just five laps remaining, setting up a spectacular sprint to the finish.

On the ensuing restart with just three laps remaining, Darnell held onto the lead and began to pull away just a bit as he was pursued by Speed and Benson. Benson made his way past Speed and set his sights on Darnell as the two took the white flag, running directly in his tire tracks.

Although there was a spin in Turn Two on that final lap when Hornaday was spun by Kyle Busch, the race remained green as Benson closed in more and more on Darnell’s lead truck.

Through Turns Three and Four, Benson took the low line as Darnell drifted up just enough to give him room and the two trucks were side by side as they entered the front straightaway. As they neared the finish line, Benson edged out in front, but Darnell looked to hit the afterburner and came charging right back, just getting the nose of his truck out in front of Benson’s and beating him to the line by .005 seconds, making it the closest finish in Truck Series history since the advent of electronic timing and scoring.

Along with Darnell and Benson finishing side by side, third through fifth came across the line three-wide behind the two lead trucks, with Speed finishing third, Bodine in fourth, and Brendan Gaughan in fifth.

“The way these trucks draft, the way you can side-draft with them, especially in the air at a bigger place like Michigan, I knew he was going to be able to suck up to the side of me and pull off and get a run, so I had to do the same thing to him,” Darnell said. “And, fortunately for me, I got it right at the start-finish line and we were able to beat him by just a little bit.”

The win was the 17th for team owner Jack Roush at Michigan and the fourth Truck Series win for the company at the track. “This is my favorite place. This is home for me,” said Roush, who hails from Michigan and has his own Roush Performance company based in Michigan, as well as Ford Motor Company being based there as well.

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About David Morgan

David Morgan serves as the Associate Editor at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@damorgan86). A native of Raymond, Mississippi, Morgan has covered NASCAR events all over the United States.

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