Benson Avoids Practice Wreck ...
Benson Avoids Practice Wreck
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson liked that he was fourth on the sheet at the end of Tuesday's practice at Daytona, but he really liked the fact that he missed a multi-car wreck on the backstretch with less than five minutes left in practice.
Benson's Valvoline Pontiac drove through the backstretch grass avoiding the spinning cars of Bobby Hamilton, Todd Bodine, and Jeff Burton. The cars of Tony Stewart and Jimmy Spencer also suffered damage in the accident. Benson made it back to the Winston Cup garage with the car not damaged.
Benson is practicing for Thursday's 125-mile qualifying race that will determine the starting positions for Sunday's Daytona 500. Benson's string of success on superspeedway races is impressive since joining crew chief James Ince's #10 Pontiac in 2000.
Johnny Benson On The Wreck:
"It was pretty close for us but I'd rather something like that be close than what happened to four or five other guys. I saw it starting to happen and laid on the brakes as hard as I could without locking them up. I started going down through the grass. I was thinking if they are going to get me down here they are going to have to go a long way to get me."
Benson On Tuesday's Practice:
"We didn't learn anything new. We just spent the day trying to get better. We made some changes that worked and changes that didn't work. Our goal is to be the best for the 500 but right now we are concentrating on the 125s. Tomorrow we will probably do the same thing. I hope we don't have as much excitement tomorrow. Maybe what happened today will calm everyone down and we will be fine."
Benson On Winning At Daytona:
"Man, winning Daytona would be a dream come true. I don't think I can put into words what winning on Sunday would do for this team and everyone connected with our operation. If the New England Patriots can win the Superbowl then the Valvoline Pontiac can win Daytona. Sure, I think we have a shot. We have had some really close calls down here since I came over here and hooked up with James and these guys. I don't know why but we just run well here and I don't expect it to be different on Sunday. They say these rules are like 2000 when we almost won. I hope that is true. But we will just have to see. I'd love to get another shot at this race."
Johnny Benson's Superspeedway History Since Joining #10 Team In 2000
2000 Daytona 500 -- Johnny Benson led 38 laps in an unsponsored Pontiac before race winner Dale Jarrett, leading a draft of several Fords, passed him with 3 laps to go in the race. Benson finished 12th.
2000 Talladega (Spring) -- Benson survived big wreck involving Robbie Gordon and Scott Pruett midway through the race then climbed into the top ten in the closing laps before finishing 13th.
2000 Pepsi 400 -- The sponsor's decals came off the car on Friday, but on Saturday night Benson led 11 laps setting himself up for a last lap showdown that went away when a lapped car ran him high in turn one on a restart shuffling Benson to the back of the field. He climbed back to 13th.
2000 Talladega (Fall) -- Benson was 7th when he pitted for a tire vibration with 28 laps to go. But, the race's only yellow fell after the pit stop dropping Benson down a lap leaving him with a 33rd place finish.
2001 Daytona 500 -- Blew an engine and finished 28th
2001 Talladega Spring -- Benson was running in third place when the white flag fell and was shuffled back to 7th in the last lap. Rode most of the race at the back of the field before making his move late.
2001 Pepsi 400 -- Driving on old tires, Benson led Dale Earnhardt Jr. with less than five laps to go before Earnhardt used four new tires and a huge speed advantage to pass Benson who led 10 laps. Benson fought valiantly to hang on, but others used the Earnhardt draft to shuffle him back to 13th place.
2001 Talladega -- Benson was running third on the final lap before he was clipped and turned into the backstretch wall slamming nose first. Credited HANS with avoiding serious injury in the 12-car accident. Finished 23rd