Benson hopes future tracks are built like Richmond

Richmond International Raceway is one of the favorite stops on the NASCAR Winston Cup tour. The Saturday night race on the .75-mile, D-shaped oval usually produces some of the best races of the season. There are a few changes this weekend. NASCAR...

Richmond International Raceway is one of the favorite stops on the NASCAR Winston Cup tour. The Saturday night race on the .75-mile, D-shaped oval usually produces some of the best races of the season. There are a few changes this weekend. NASCAR altered the Richmond schedule placing happy hour 30 minutes after qualifying on Friday night making it difficult for teams to change engines after qualifying. There is no practice scheduled before the green flag drops Saturday night. In the past teams have practiced Saturday morning and afternoon. News reports say Richmond is one of the tracks where NASCAR is considering the implementation of a rule next year limiting teams to only one engine per weekend at short tracks.

Benson Notes
* Benson maintained his third-place position in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings for the fourth consecutive week after finishing 11th at California Speedway on Sunday.
* He has finished seventh or better in six of the 10 races in 2001.
* He is one of the five drivers that have each scored six top-10 finishes in the first 10 races of the season.
* He has three top-10 finishes in 10 career races at the Richmond International Raceway, with his best being a seventh-place finish there last fall.

Johnny Benson On Richmond:
"I like Richmond. If somebody were going to build a new track I wish they would build it like Richmond. Most of us like tracks like Richmond because you can race hard, beat and bang just a little, not have to worry about staying in or keeping up with the draft. If you can get your car handling right and you have a good motor then you are going to the front.

"It seems like every time we go back to Richmond they have sealed the race track. I'm not sure why they do that, because I think we put on a pretty good race each time we are there. That sealant on the asphalt changes the race a lot. You start out the race with a lot of grip but as that sealant wears off everyone starts to lose grip and it changes the race. The cars fast at the beginning of the race might not be the fastest cars at the end of the race. I guess you could say that about every race though, but with the sealer you should notice it a little bit more at Richmond."

"I used to go climb up in the stands on Friday night to sit with the fans and watch the Busch race. You get a lot different perspective on the race sitting up there. Plus, a lot of them are pretty fun to talk with. I hope the new schedule doesn't mess that up because that was fun."

Benson On Race Strategy
"That track changes so much during the race that if you could change springs and shocks about half way through the race you might win every time. I know we don't get any practice Saturday, but that shouldn't be much of a factor. To me this schedule is just like our normal schedule. It may be different that what we have had in the past but it isn't going to make a big difference to the driver."

Crew Chief James Ince On Richmond:
"The cool part about going to Richmond is that it kind of takes us back to our roots. We all grew up racing on Friday or Saturday nights, not Sunday afternoons. We are back doing the things we wanted to do our whole lives and we are lucky enough to be able to do it in this big arena called Winston Cup. Richmond is the kind of race track that you go to that you wouldn't mind racing every week. If I had a choice of only running three race tracks, Richmond would be on my list."

Ince On Richmond Schedule:
"I don't know if it will pose any problems. It's just different. The schedule has been different this year and I think they have done a good job with that. Unfortunately, it puts a lot of time on our hands at the track sitting around doing nothing. If we are going to be at the race track we should be practicing instead of just hanging out in the lounge. It's very very important to have a good qualifying engine at Richmond and the way the schedule is there is really no time to change engines from qualifying to happy hour."

Ince On Rumored One Engine Rule For 2002:
"I know NASCAR is looking at certain places to make one motor weekends. Unfortunately Richmond is not a place you can do that. You got to make sure you have your best engine in the car come race time. Ten horsepower, especially when they have sealed the race track, can mean the difference of about twenty spots. What they would like to do is practice and qualify your race engine the whole weekend like the Busch Series does. On the Winston Cup side, I believe all the engine builders have pushed the limit so far to make all the power that they can that we probably don't have a durable piece to do that as the Busch Series.

"I'm in favor of anything that saves money. But I always go back to the way in which we could save the most money would be if the towns we go to would get rid of these four and five night minimums that we have on our motel rooms. That's a better way to save money that affecting the way we race at the race track. There's always ways to save money and that's very important. But remember racing is an expensive sport." <pre> THE RACE: Pontiac Excitement 400

Race: Saturday, May 5, 2001 in Richmond, VA

TV: FX(yes FX not Fox) 8:00pm/et(pre-race at 7:30pm/et) Announcers: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds Pit Reporters: Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes, Jeanne Zelasko

2000 Race Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr, 93.374mph Track Race Record: Dale Jarrett, Sept 1997, 109.047mph

Track/Race Length: 0.75 mile oval, 400 laps, 300 miles Pit Road Speed: 35mph

Practice

Practice: Friday, May 4th from 12:00 - 2:00pm/et Happy Hour Practice: Friday, May 4th from 5:50 - 7:20pm/et, TV-FX at 6:30pm/et

Qualifying

Qualifying Draw: Friday, May 4th at 11:00am/et Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-36, Friday, May 4th at 3:30pm/et, TV-FX tape delayed at 5:00pm/et and live via MRN radio/internet Second-Round Qualifying: there is no longer a 2nd round of qualifying Track/Event Qualifying Record: Jeff Gordon, May 1999, 126.499mph Last Year's Pole Sitter: Rusty Wallace, 124.740mph(finished 5th)

Track Specs: Short Track: 0.75-mile oval, 60-foot width with 10-foot apron Banking: turns: 14 degrees; frontstretch 8 degrees; backstretch 2 degrees Seating Capacity: almost 96,000

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Rusty Wallace , Johnny Benson