Jerry Nadeau to drive Valvoline Pontiac until Benson's return. Jerry Nadeau will race the ...
Jerry Nadeau to drive Valvoline Pontiac until Benson's return.
Jerry Nadeau will race the #10 Valvoline Pontiac Saturday in the Winston Open in Charlotte and remain behind the wheel until Johnny Benson's return from the broken rib he suffered in a Busch Series race on May 3 at Richmond.
"I certainly wish it could be under better circumstances but I'm excited to run the Winston Open with the Valvoline team," said Nadeau. "They won the pole and the Open last year and I know they want to do the same again this year. That's certainly my goal. If we can get through the Open then it's on to the Winston where just about anything can happen and usually does."
Nadeau, 31, and Hendrick Motorsports ended their 3-year relationship on May 8. The highlight of Nadeau's tenure at Hendrick came on Nov. 20, 2000 when he won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the #25 Monte Carlo. In addition to the Atlanta victory, the Danbury, Conn. native has four starts on the front row in Winston Cup competition.
Jay Frye, General Manager for the Valvoline team, said the team and its owners wanted Nadeau as Benson's replacement as soon as they learned he was available.
"We had talked to some others but Jerry is the guy we jumped at when we heard that he could drive for us," Frye said. "Jerry drove the #36 car for us when Ernie Irvan was hurt back in 1999 and got along with everyone here really well. He'll fit in without a problem."
Benson said he supports the selection of Nadeau, but wishes it wasn't necessary.
"I don't like being a spectator," Benson said. "The Open is a race I wanted to race because we won it last year, but getting well is my main goal right now. I like Jerry and trust him with our car so it isn't going to be hard to root for Jerry to do well, but it still won't be as much fun as driving.
"Our paint scheme is pretty cool but I'd rather spend the race looking at the car's interior. I don't know when I will return. Everybody keeps telling me it is better to take my time and get healed instead of rushing back. I'm pretty much going to listen to what the doctors say and what my body says."