Sometimes the most important duty of a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief has nothing to do with shocks, springs or talking to the driver. The crew chief is the person that keeps the 50 or so employees at the raceshop motivated and working together ...
Sometimes the most important duty of a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief has nothing to do with shocks, springs or talking to the driver. The crew chief is the person that keeps the 50 or so employees at the raceshop motivated and working together through 10-hour days sometimes six and seven days a week. He also must lead during tough times.
#10 Lycos Pontiac crew chief James Ince had that thought in mind Sunday when he called an early morning team meeting at Tyler Jet Motorsports' Harrisburg, N.C. raceshop to talk about missing that day's Atlanta race - a particularly tough blow considering the team and driver Johnny Benson were 11th in points before Atlanta.
Rain cancelled second round qualifying on Saturday and NASCAR used the 1999 standings to determine provisionals. The team was too far down in points from last year to claim a provisional.
Despite missing Sunday's race, Benson is 17th in 2000 car owner points and tied for 20th in the driver standings.
Sunday Morning's Team Meeting:
"I told them this isn't a time to go home and sit in the house with the blinds shut and sulk. I watched the Busch race on Saturday and saw three drivers mention us during interviews. Us going home sent ripples through the garage area. I told our team to go home Sunday afternoon knowing that if we were there we would have run well. I heard someone say the continuation of our impressive season is over. That's bull and I told our guys that. The people that weren't writing or talking about us before the season are now writing us off. We hope everyone continues to discount us. We will prove our worth on the track. I want to make sure nobody on this team gives up. I wanted to have the meeting Sunday morning so I wouldn't see any long faces on Monday morning because we have work to do."
"We had a bad lap on Friday and then were a victim of rain and a provisional system that lets some cars in the race that don't have much of a chance to run well each weekend. You saw that on the track Sunday. We had to suffer for what happened last year. We were the 11th place car going into Atlanta and we had one lap and didn't get another chance because of the rain and points system. Would we have made it into the field? Yes. I think Johnny Benson would have gotten us in on Saturday. We will never know.
"We aren't going to change a thing from what we have been doing. We are going to Darlington with our heads held high. Missing Atlanta doesn't change a single goal of what we want to accomplish this season. We are a young team and it's important that these guys don't get down on themselves or try to do too much. We are going to hang bodies, pack wheel bearings, paint the car, set up the car and Johnny is even going to drive the car the same way we have been doing it all season."
"Atlanta is the toughest track on the circuit for me as a crew chief. Ever since they restructured it my cars have struggled, but Darlington has always been my best. We ran second at Darlington with Ted Musgrave in 1997 when he and Dale (Jarrett) were rubbing on the last lap for the win. Believe me I think about that race a lot and nothing would be better than getting a little bit of vengeance this weekend. I know Darlington is one of Johnny Benson's favorite tracks. Darlington is all about springs and shocks and getting the right setup underneath the racecar. As a crew chief you can have a lot of impact. That's why I like it. We are going to make someone pay for last weekend, I promise you that."
<pre> Race Information
Race: Sunday, March 19, 2000 in Darlington, SC TV: ESPN 12:30pm/et 1999 Race Winner: Jeff Burton Spring Race Speed Record: Dale Earnhardt, 1994, 132.432mph Track/Race Length: 1.366 mile oval, 293 laps, 400.24 miles Practice: Friday, Mar 17th 11:00am-12:15pm/et; 1:00-1:45pm/et; Saturday, Mar 18th, 9:30-11:00am/et Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, Mar 18th, after the BGN race, TV-ESPN2 Same Day Tape 6:30-7:30pm/et Qualifying Draw: Friday, Mar 17th at 10:30am/et First Round Qualifying: 1 lap for positions 1-25, Friday, Mar 17th at 3:30pm/et, TV-ESPN2 live and live via MRN radio/internet Second-Round Qualifying: 1 lap for positions 26th on back, Saturday, Mar 18th at 11:30am/et Track/Race Qual. Record: Ward Burton, 173.797mph, March 1996 Last Year's Pole Sitter: Jeff Gordon, 173.167mph Pit Road Speed: 45mph