(OREGON, Wisc. – Aug. 25, 2013) – Kyle Benjamin made history Sunday, becoming the youngest winner in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards history Sunday, winning the Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200.Benjamin, who doesn’t turn 16 until November, took the lead during a caution and slowly built a commanding lead over the last 100 laps in taking the win. It was the third win in three weeks for the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota, the first with Benjamin on the wheel.
“It’s definitely the biggest thing that has ever happened to me,” Benjamin said. “I’m ecstatic right now. I’m not going to sleep tonight. I’m not going to sleep tomorrow night.”
Justin Boston, in the No. 25 ZLOOP Computer & Recycling Toyota finished second, giving Venturini Motorsports a 1-2 finish. Frank Kimmel scored yet another top five in his Ansell-Menards Toyota by placing third with Spencer Gallagher fourth in the Allegiant Travel Chevrolet and Mason Mingus fifth in the 811 Call Before You Dig Toyota. Local favorite Ross Kenseth came in sixth, the last car on the lead lap.
Benjamin started third, behind Kenseth and Boston. He pitted for two tires on lap 50 when the first caution came out. He grabbed the lead when the second and final caution flag flew at lap 70 and he stayed on the track.
“It was a top five car at the beginning we came and made that stop and got those two those tires and the car came to life,” Benjamin said. “From there it was smooth sailing. Kevin Reed is such a good crew chief. I got the best team behind me. Billy Venturini is awesome. I had a great spotter. Everything just came together today. I’m really happy for all of the guys.”
Reed said he expected another caution at some point and, if that happened, he would have called for four fresh tires for Benjamin. As it was, the team needed just that one two-tire change. The final margin of victory over Boston was 7.090 seconds.
“Kyle’s been awesome all year,” Reed said. “He was just flawless today.”
Kenseth grabbed the lead early and led until he pitted under the first caution. He came down again late in the same caution for an adjustment to his car before the re-start. He followed behind Benjamin for a long part of the late green flag run before falling off to sixth.
“It was great working with this Ken Schrader team,” he said. “Optimistically, I’d say we might have had the best car out there today because of what the guys game. We just fell short in the end.”
Boston and Gallagher continued their strong seasons. Boston set a career high with a second-place finish. He now has finished in the top 10 in eleven of the last 12 ARCA races.
“It was good,” Boston said of his car. “I wish a caution would have come out so I could have got up there and gave Kyle a battle. He earned that win, though, with only taking on those two tires early. He drove the heck out of it today.”
Gallagher has three top five’s in his past four races, including a second last week and fourth today.
“It was a good day. I have one dent to smooth out and we can take this car to Salem, and I’ve been good there,” he said. “Definitely a good day for the Allegiant Travel team.”
Kimmel extended his amazing streak of 24 straight top 10 finishes and widened his series point lead as he takes aim for his 10th series championship.
“We were about a tenth off all day, and that’s about where we ended up,” Kimmel said.
James Buescher had been the youngest winner in series history until Sunday, having won at USA International in Lakeland, Fla. in 2007. He was two days shy of his 16th birthday when he took the checkered flag in an ARCA Racing Series event.
Benjamin’s father, Steve, was in victory lane with other family members, soaking up the win.
“I’m proud as I can be,” he said. “I’m always proud of Kyle.”
The race will air on NBC Sports Network at 11 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29.
The ARCA Racing Series next heads to DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds and the one-mile dirt track on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2.