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Woody: Hoping For Best For Benson

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 14 2009

By Larry Woody |Senior Writer

Johnny Benson

Johnny Benson

All Johnny Benson wanted to do was race.

But even winning the NASCAR truck series championship last year couldn’t save Benson’s ride in the current crumbling economy, and last week his Red Horse Racing Team folded due to lack of sponsorship.

Undeterred, the 45-year-old Benson packed his racing suit and helmet and headed to Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan, to run a Saturday night SuperModified race.

And it was there that he was involved in a fiery crash that sent him to the hospital with serious injuries, including burns and broken ribs.

At last update Benson was listed in serious but stable condition.

The prayers and thoughts of the racing community are with Benson, one of the most affable drivers I’ve ever known.

Personable and always accommodating to fans and the media, Benson at times seemed almost too mild-mannered to survive in the rugged, cut-throat world of stock car racing.

But on the track, Johnny the pussycat turned into a tiger. He was a tough competitor, totally dedicated to his sport.

Benson dabbled in the Cup series briefly but with limited success and a couple of years ago he told me he figured his “big break” had passed him by.

Benson wasn’t slick and cool like the young hotshots that are landing most of the plum rides. He wasn’t Hollywood-handsome or media-dazzling.

He was simply a good guy and a tough competitor who loved racing.

Just because Benson wasn’t racing in the big-time Cup spotlight didn’t mean his heart wasn’t in every race he ran, on every level. His fellow truck racers will tell you Benson was as tenacious and relentless a racer as ever stomped a pedal.

Last week brought another lost ride, another dashed hope. But Benson didn’t sulk and mope and slink off somewhere to feel sorry for himself. He loaded up and went racing.

And so it was that Saturday night found him charging around some obscure little track in some minor-league event when something went terrible wrong.

Why was he out there? Because he loved racing too much to give it up.

Now all can do is hope that the price wasn’t too high.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 14 2009
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