By Ken de la Bastide
WINCHESTER — Fourteen-year-old Kyle Benjamin rubbed fenders with leader Ross Kenseth coming off the final corner to take the lead and victory in the Winchester 400 on Sunday at Winchester Speedway.
Benjamin came back from two laps down, thanks to the Lucky Dog, and was in contention for the win with 24 laps remaining.
On the final restart, Benjamin started fourth behind Kenseth, Johnny VanDoorn and Bubba Pollard. But he passed Pollard on the restart than used the high line to move into second around VanDoorn.
For the next 16 laps, Benjamin was glued to the rear bumper of Kenseth as the laps clicked down. On the final lap Benjamin got a great run coming off the second corner and the two raced side by side into turn three.
Exiting turn four, Kenseth and Benjamin traded paint with both cars getting loose. Benjamin beat Kenseth to the checkers by .073-seconds with Chase Elliott, VanDoorn and Pollard rounding out the top five.
After bouncing off the turn two wall and knocking the alignment on the car out, Benjamin said the team struggled all day.
“I didn’t think I had anything for [Kenseth],” he said after the win. “He started to slow down and I was able to stay close to him. I had to bang him up a little, but this is the 400.”
Kenseth felt the victory was taken from him, not appreciating Benjamin’s bump on the final lap.
“That’s not the way we do things around here,” Kenseth said. “We had a great day and the victory was taken from us.”
Yorktown driver Rick Turner set fast-time, but his race lasted only eight laps. While leading Turner got loose in turn four, bounced off the wall and into the oncoming field.
The incident ended the day for NASCAR star Kyle Busch.
There were 12 lead changes among eight drivers. The race was slowed 16 times for 124 laps for caution periods and was red-flagged once for rain.