You couldn’t have written a better script than Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 Race at Phoenix International Raceway. The race was better than any of those crash and bash adverts that NASCAR runs to promote the Tough Truck series.

The 150-lap crash-fest had more twists than a Chubby Checker song.

Reader’s Digest version – RON HORNADAY/No.33 KHI Chevrolet cut JOHNNY BENSON/No.23 Toyota’s championship lead in half, despite them crashing in separate incidents requiring lengthy repairs and them finishing in twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth positions, respectively. But there was nothing respectful about it.

Three points now separate the two contenders as they head to Homestead Miami Speedway next weekend for the season’s finale.

Hornaday and KYLE BUSCH/No.51 Billy Ballew Racing Toyota crashed on the first lap. Hornaday said “It was the dumbest move I ever made and I thought I was going to get fired.” Hornaday’s boss, KEVIN HARVICK/No.2 KHI Chevrolet, was well aware of what was going on. There were enough cautions (seven for 41 laps) that he had time to watch the big screens going down the front straight, and see what was happening and where the points stood.

Hornaday spent 32 laps behind the wall while the crew feverishly beavered away on repairs. JACK ROUSH, co-owner of Roush-Fenway Racing Fords, ordered two of his teams to go help, and crews from other teams joined in including TRG and some Dodge boys. It’s no secret that Roush is no fan of Toyota in NASCAR.

Hornaday, who also worked on the truck, said he had tears in his eyes watching everyone help.

Points leader JOHNNY BENSON/No.23 Toyota was involved in no fewer than five on-track incidents, and finally was hit so hard by T.J. BELL/No.7 TRG Chevrolet that it was his turn to go behind the wall and do similar lengthy repairs to his truck.

Meanwhile Hornaday’s boss and team mate, KEVIN HARVICK/No.2 KHI Chevrolet, who started tenth, was chasing down leader KYLE BUSCH/No.51 Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota.  Harvick succeeded and took the lead and went on to take the victory. It was the third consecutive KHI victory in as many Truck races, and each was won by a different driver – RYAN NEWMAN at Atlanta Motor Speedway, making his Truck debut; Hornaday last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, and owner Harvick at PIR. It was Harvick’s third Truck victory, and all three have been at PIR.

Afterwards Hornaday said “Stellar night wasn’t it. I don’t think Johnny (Benson) and I want to win this thing. Whoever is going to win this is going to have the least amount of luck.”

Another driver’s view of the evening came from RICK CRAWFORD/No.14 Circle Bar Ford, who finished ninth after starting twentieth. He said “That was some night. I didn’t see what happened to either of them, but they both had a hard night. I was just trying to get through it. I felt like a cue ball down there.”

Second through fifth finishers were Busch, who got bonus points for leading the most laps – twice for 90 laps in the 150-lap race; TODD BODINE/No.30 Germain Racing Toyota; Rookie BRIAN SCOTT/No.16 Xpress Motorsports Toyota; and MIKE SKINNER/No.5 Toyota.

Twenty-four of the 35 starters finished the race, with 22 on the lead lap. Eight of the DNF’s were due to accidents, but no one was hurt.

The crowd was estimated at 28,500 and they certainly got their money’s worth.