HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Memo to Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson: Anything can go wrong in a NASCAR race at any time.
The memo-writer might be Mike Skinner, the Truck series points leader going into Friday’s Ford 200 season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Skinner, who led Ron Hornaday by 29 points when the race began, saw his left-rear tire fly off his Toyota early in the race. That sent Skinner’s truck to the garage, where his crew spent 11 laps getting him back on track.
That was too much for Skinner to overcome, as Johnny Benson won the race and Hornaday – making up 83 points and finishing seventh -- claimed his third Truck championship.
Johnson has an 86-point lead over Jeff Gordon as the Nextel Cup season ends Sunday.
“I hate it for Mike,” said Hornaday, who finished 54 points ahead of Skinner. “But one of us was going to win this championship.”
Skinner first felt a problem as he was leading the race early on. He took his truck to pit road, but his crew could find nothing wrong.
Then, just a few laps later, a silver lug nut on Skinner’s left-rear wheel came off, with the wheel quickly following.
By the time his crew had fixed the problem in the garage, Skinner was too far down.
“I guess a hub was coming apart,” said Skinner, who finished 35th. “The brake pedal was going to the floor and it was vibrating badly. It got worse and worse and finally came apart.”
Kevin Harvick, Hornaday’s team owner, finished fourth.
Kyle Busch led on Lap 137 when Chris Jones’ truck spun. That meant the race would have a green-white-checkered finish and Benson caught Busch on the last lap.
Busch wasn’t happy about the caution.
“I’m disappointed in NASCAR for throwing the caution just for a truck that just got a little sideways and put on a smoke show,” he said. “I guess in the interest of safety.”
“You can go through every race and find five points you either threw away or that somebody gave you,” said Benson, Skinner’s Bill Davis Racing teammate. “Unfortunately, (Skinner) had some issues and it happened to him in this race. I wanted to see Mike win this thing as badly as anybody.”