When you get right down to it, there is really only one lap that matters in a race - the final one. That was especially true during this past weekend's NASCAR Camping World East Series event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Lap 124 is when two drivers with high-profile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rides got together to decide the outcome of the race. Ryan Truex was out front to begin the lap in his Michael Waltrip Racing machine while Matt DiBenedetto, who had led the race earlier, trailed in his Joe Gibbs Racing entry. Contact was made and as the smoke cleared, DiBenedetto found himself crossing the finish line .169 seconds ahead of Truex.
“At the end I started running the high line when Truex was in front of me,” said DiBenedetto. “I had made up all that ground that I had lost and he tried to pull a block on the back straightaway which obviously was totally acceptable and then he kind of let off a little earlier getting into three there and I didn't expect and I ran into him a little bit but all in all it was a great finish and a great show for the fans so it was exciting.
“I went off in there and, like he said, he let off the gas a little bit and I was pretty much on his back bumper - literally pushing him down the back straightaway because he pulled down into my line there a little bit. Then my plan was, although it doesn't always work that way, was to let off and drive it in and carry the speed in with him and then let off and he drove it in a little too hard and made a mistake and then I got on the gas trying to sneak under him, maybe pull a little dirt move on him, but it didn't end up that way. He slid and we made an awesome save, I got to say that and he tried to slow down and block me on the bottom but I had all that momentum on the bottom coming underneath him he kept coming down and then we hit doors and I just stepped on the gas wide open aiming for that start finish line, that's all I was looking at.”
As you can imagine, Truex had a different account of the incident.
“About five laps before that I drove in and passed him clean and never touched him never did anything,” said Truex. “And then I started running away from him there and made a couple mistakes and he got up on me. Coming off of [turn] two I saw him getting a run off of me then he ducked to the inside a little bit, so I blocked him a little bit and he drove into the back of me there and I mean that's okay, that one was fine with me there.
“Getting in to three and he just got into the back of me. Well I know he would do that if I blocked him, but then I got back off him getting down in the corner he just never let off the gas and drove right in the back of me we were side by side coming off of four and he decided to run up into me again so I don't know what else to say.
“I should've been spun out I don't know how I saved it, but I got back alongside him and then drove up into me again and about put me in the wall. If that's how he wants to race, that's how I'll race him.
“I'll say something to him…I didn't think he drove like that, but whatever, it's racing and that's what happens we'll just focus on next week.”
That won't take anything away from DiBenedetto's victory though - which is the biggest of the young driver's career so far.
“It's been exciting coming here to Loudon New Hampshire; I mean it's obviously a great race track and a lot of history so definitely any place to win at it's still hard to believe. I mean that's one good thing is that I've been able to adapt to new tracks pretty quickly which you definitely have to be able to do here coming into the series because I haven't been to most of these race tracks so it's good to come up here and be able to pick it up fast and Joe Gibbs Racing - they're good everywhere and they gave me a great race car to deal with so it definitely made things a lot easier.”
Even Truex's second place result was good for his rising stock after recently winning his first career CW East race at Watkins Glen.
“It was cool winning the race at a road course, but we've been running so good at ovals I wanted to get a win and show that we can do it and I think we should it today that we can win races,” said Truex.
The NASCAR Camping World East Series will return to action on Saturday, July 11th at Thompson International Speedway (CT).
NASCAR Camping World Series East-Heluva Good! Summer 125 Results
At New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Lap length: 1.058 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (5) Matt DiBenedetto, Grass Valley, Calif., Toyota, 125 laps, 87.182 mph, $13,900.
2. (1) Ryan Truex, Mayetta, N.J., Toyota, 125, $11,725.
3. (3) Kevin Swindell, Germantown, Tenn., Chevrolet, 125, $7,900.
4. (12) Ryan Gifford, Winchester, Tenn., Chevrolet, 125, $8,400.
5. (9) Jody Lavender, Hartsville, S.C., Chevrolet, 125, $7,050.
6. (2) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 125, $6,000.
7. (8) Alan Tardiff, Lyman, Maine, Chevrolet, 125, $5,750.
8. (15) Jesus Hernandez, Fresno, Calif., Dodge, 125, $5,100.
9. (13) Patrick Long, Oak Park, Calif., Chevrolet, 125, $4,650.
10. (6) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 125, $4,350.
11. (7) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 125, $4,200.
12. (16) Dakoda Armstrong, New Castle, Ind., Chevrolet, 125, $3,600.
13. (21) Mike Olsen, North Haverhill, N.H., Chevrolet, 125, $3,500.
14. (10) Jeff Anton, Russell, Mass., Chevrolet, 125, $3,400.
15. (19) Alex Kennedy, Aztec, N.M., Chevrolet, 125, $3,800.
16. (24) Mike Johnson, Salisbury, Mass., Ford, 125, $3,200.
17. (11) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, N.Y., Chevrolet, 125, $3,600.
18. (14) Brad Leighton, Center Harbor, N.H., Chevrolet, 125, $3,000.
19. (25) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 125, $2,900.
20. (23) Ryan Duff, Hazard, KY., Chevrolet, 125, $3,350.
21. (20) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Chevrolet, 124, $3,325.
22. (18) Jarit Johnson, El Cajon, Calif., Chevrolet, 123, $2,800.
23. (22) Jason Patison, Corona, Calif., Chevrolet, 120, $3,295.
24. (17) D.J. Shaw, Conway, N.H., Ford, 117, $2,780.
25. (27) Tiffany Daniels, Smithfield, Va., Dodge, 101, accident, $2,765.
26. (26) Chase Mattioli, Long Pond, PA., Dodge, 77, accident, $2,750.
27. (4) Brett Moffitt, Grimes, Iowa, Chevrolet, 39, accident, $3,235.
28. (29) Eric Chase, Burlington, Vt., Chevrolet, 10, suspension, $2,720.
29. (28) Scott Bouley, Middlebury, Conn., Chevrolet, 0, engine, $2,705.
Time of Race: 1 hour 31 minutes 1 second
Margin of Victory: .169 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: R.Truex * (125.113 mph, 30.443 seconds)
Caution Flags: 6 for 24 laps.
Lead Changes: 8 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: E. MacDonald 1-33; R. Truex 34-64; E. MacDonald 65-68; K. Swindell 69-72; E. MacDonald 73-74; K. Swindell 75-80; M. DiBenedetto 81-118; R. Truex 119-124; M. DiBenedetto 125.
Standings: 1. J. Lavender, 901; 2. E. MacDonald, 883; 3. R. Truex, 872; 4. B. Moffitt, 846; 5. S. Park, 784; 6. D. Delaney, 772; 7. A. Kennedy, 746; 8. M. Kobyluck, 727; 9. A. Tardiff, 704; 10. R. Duff, 699.