Kyle Benjamin and the No. 54 DGR-CROSLEY team had a strong showing Monday afternoon during the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The 20-year-old driver battled for the win in the closing laps of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut but came up just short of capturing the win, scoring a second-place finish.
Benjamin took to the half-mile track for the first time in his career on Friday afternoon for three practice sessions where he showed speed throughout the entire day. That trend continued into Saturday as the No. 54 Crosley Toyota Tundra advanced to the final round of NCWTS qualifying before securing a fourth-place starting position in the 250-lap race.
With inclement weather looming in the area, Benjamin was aggressive in the opening laps of the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, moving up to third before NASCAR Officials were forced to postpone the event until Monday. When the race resumed two days later, Benjamin started in third-place and remained towards the front of the field for the first 70-laps, ending Stage 1 in the fifth position. During Stage 2, the No. 54 team fell out of the top-10 when crew chief Bono Manion called for Benjamin to pit under caution on lap 115 while a majority of the field stayed out. The pit strategy led to a 12th-place finish in Stage 2 but put Benjamin in a great position for the concluding laps after all the leaders pitted under caution, placing Benjamin in front of the field. He maintained the lead for 74 laps before losing a three-wide battle between himself, John Hunter Nemechek and Todd Gilliland on a restart late in the race. Benjamin nudged eventual race winner, Nemecheck, coming off Turn 4 in the closing lap of the Alpha Energy 250 but ultimately didn't have enough momentum to complete the pass and was forced to settle with a second-place finish.
"We had a very fast Crosley Toyota Tundra and it really showed on the long green flag runs," said Benjamin. "I had it in my mind I was going to try something off Turn 4 to get around the 8 truck, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to get by him. I didn't want to make a move that was too aggressive but wanted to give him a run for him money, which I think we did. I'm really thankful for the opportunity and fast truck that DGR-CROSLEY gave me this weekend just wish we had a few more laps there at the end."
The NCWTS will have several weeks off before heading to Dover (Del.) International Speedway on May 4, 2018.
DGR-Crosley Racing PR