“It feels good to run that good, but we led nearly half the race and it’s a disappointment not to finish it off,” the 20-year-old and 2012 POWRi National Midget champion said. “Tyler and I were sliding each other and by the time Stratton got by us, we didn’t have a chance.
“But once we got into lapped traffic, Stratton made some mistakes and getting caught behind slower cars and I had a shot at him. It would have been nice to have five more laps.”
Felker shaved 10 points off Daum’s lead and trails Daum officially by 270 points, 4,030-3,760. But when the POWRi rule that requires each driver to drop two events at the end of the season is included, Daum’s advantage is 180 points, 3,920-3,740. Four events remain.
“We’re still in contention,” Felker said.
Daum had a narrow escape from disaster that would have swallowed most of his championship lead.
On the 16th lap, Daum’s Toyota-powered Eagle touched wheels with Nick Knepper’s Spike-Esslinger exiting turn four. Daum went partially airborne and made contact with the outside wall on the front straight. The impact broke a part that held on the rear end, but the Eagle came down on the track and kept going.
“Luck,” the 22-year-old said. “I thought we were flipping. I was sure we were going for a ride. I don’t know how it happened that we kept going.”
Benson’s victory combined with championship leader Cale Thomas’ crash on the 11th lap and 21st-place finish substantially narrowed the gap in the championship. Thomas leads by 40 points, 2,330-2,290, when the rule eliminating the worst two finishes of the year is included. Two events remain.
Benson started on pole and led 19 of 20 laps in his Pace-Suzuki. The 29-year-old from Concordia, Mo., held off Jacob Patton’s Boss-Suzuki by four car lengths and Aaron Andruskevitch was third.
“Cale (Thomas) has been so fast all year, I hate to see him lose his championship lead like that,” Benson said. “I’d rather race him for it. We’ve got two races left and we’ll see what happens.
“I love this Macon track. I had my first POWRi win here in 2010 and getting going on the top is fabulous.”
Patton has missed most of the season with a broken finger. He started on the outside of the front row and, running the inside, led the ninth lap, but couldn’t keep up with the outside-running Benson. Patton’s second was the best finish for the first-year Boss chassis.
Thomas was running third when Andruskevitch tried pass him with a slide job in turn four. They touched wheels and Thomas’ Sawyer flipped and crashed hard on the front straight. The 15-year-old from Fairland, Ind., wasn’t injured.
Danny Stratton, Andrew Felker, Zach Daum, Daniel Robinson, Bubba Altig, Tyler Thomas, Garrett Aitken, Parker Price-Miller, Justin Peck, Austin Brown, Jake Neuman, Daniel Adler, James Eden, Tony Roney, Nick Knepper, Shane Hollingsworth, Terry Babb, Colten Cottle, Tyler Robbins, Jeff Flesher, Logan Hupp, Jake Blackhurst.