Qualifying Takes On Importance At Homestead and Atlanta Benson Has Two Tries Left To Put Valvoline Pontiac In Bud Shootout In Daytona There are only two more chances in 2001 for NASCAR Winston Cup teams to garner a starting spot in the 2002 Bud...
Qualifying Takes On Importance At Homestead and Atlanta
Benson Has Two Tries Left To Put Valvoline Pontiac In Bud Shootout In Daytona
There are only two more chances in 2001 for NASCAR Winston Cup teams to garner a starting spot in the 2002 Bud Shootout. The 50-mile race held Feb. 10 begins the 2002 Speedweeks at Daytona. Not only are teams interested in earning a starting spot for the race's prize money, but the race can serve as a mini-test session for the qualifying race Feb. 14 and the Daytona 500 Feb.17. To make their debut in the 2002 Bud Shootout, Johnny Benson and his Valvoline team must win a pole at Homestead on Friday or the following Friday at Atlanta. NASCAR has already set the field for the season's final race at New Hampshire on Nov. 23.
Benson's Crew Chief James Ince said it's going to be difficult for Benson or any Pontiac to win a pole at Homestead because of its downforce disadvantage as well as the rules adopted midway through the season eliminating bump stops and limiting spring rubbers -- setup tools he says allowed the Pontiac to stay competitive. Although he isn't optimistic about qualifying, Ince thinks they stand a good chance to race well. If that holds true, Benson hopes he can repeat his Rockingham performance on Sunday that saw him come from 39th to third equaling his best finish of the season.
Benson On Trying For Bud Shootout Spot:
"Sure we'd like to be in the Bud Shootout. There are a lot of guys who have done pretty well this year who are still waiting on their first pole of the season. I think we can do it this weekend at Homestead. This team sat on the pole in 1999 with David Green and that was a heck of an accomplishment. We think we will be good this year but you never know until you get there and qualifying starts. We'd like to get in the Bud Shootout and there aren't too many more opportunities to do that. We have had a pretty good car for qualifying at some tracks this year, but we have focused more on racing this season. Qualifying is important, but you have to remember it's the race that pays the most in terms of money and points."
James Ince On Homestead:
"The most challenging thing about Homestead is that it is so flat. It doesn't have nearly the grip that Indianapolis or Las Vegas does. With this hard tire we are running this year, it's going to make Homestead even tougher. Our teammates (Ken Schrader's team) went down there and tested and they had an easier time getting a hold of the Governor than they did getting a hold of the race track. It's going to be a tough place.
"Homestead is a place I enjoy. We have confidence after winning that pole in 1999. Unfortunately they have taken everything from the Pontiac that you need to go down there and be successful. Not having the bumpstops and spring rubbers will show up more at Homestead than any place we have been. We are high enough in points to get a provision to make the show, but we will be pretty good in the race.
"It took me a long time to get the feel of Indianapolis to learn what it takes to get a good finish there. I think that might be true of Homestead as well. A lot of people don't have a lot of experience there and it has taken us a while to put on a great show. It's just our fourth year going there and the racing is going to get better. It's a different type of race track."
THE RACE: Homestead-Miami Speedway 400
Winston Cup Race #34 of 36 for the 2001 season
Race: Sunday, November 11, 2001 in Homestead, FL
TV: NBC - 12:30pm/et, re-aired on TNT Tuesday, Nov 13th, 1:00am/et
Pre-Race Show: 12:00noon/et - Hosted by Bill Weber
NASCAR on TV and TNT TV Schedule and CNN/SI Schedule
2000 Race Winner: Tony Stewart, 127.480mph, started 13th
Race Record: Tony Stewart, Nov 1999, 140.335mph
Track/Race Length: 1.5 mile oval, 267 laps, 400.5 miles
Pit Road Speed: 45mph
Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, Nov 10th 11:30am - 12:15pm/et on TV-CNN/SI
First Round Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-36, Friday, Nov 9th at 3:00pm/et, TV-CNN/SI live and via MRN Radio
Track/Event Qualifying Record: Steve Park, Nov 2000, 156.440mph
Last Year's Pole Sitter: Steve Park, 156.440mph, finished 8th
Degree of Banking: Turns: 6 degrees
Straightaways: Length: 1,760 feet, Width: 60 feet, Banking: 3 degrees