Johnny Benson Out at Rousch

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson has been released from his contract at Roush Racing, freeing the former NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion to seek another ride for the 2000 season, Roush Racing announced Monday. While...

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson has been released from his contract at Roush Racing, freeing the former NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion to seek another ride for the 2000 season, Roush Racing announced Monday. While Benson will only drive Roush's No. 26 Cheerios Fords through the end of the 1999 season, he will continue his role as a spokesman for General Mills's products.

"Johnny's honesty, integrity and strong family values make him an outstanding fit with our products," said Laurie Greeno, vice president of motorsports for General Mills.

Unfortunately for Benson and Roush, those qualities did not transfer into success on the race track for Roush's No. 26 program. As part of the announcement, Roush and General Mills stated their new sponsorship agreement beginning next year under which General Mills has been granted sponsorship rights for all Roush teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. If his current and planned teams continue, Roush will operate six teams in the NWC; two part-time teams in the NBS; and two teams in the NCTS.

"These changes in sponsorship status are the result of a process initiated several weeks ago by Roush Racing and Johnny Benson, and ultimately endorsed by all parties," the Roush statement said.

Benson, who won the NASCAR Busch Series championship in 1995, came to Roush Racing after finishing 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings in 1997 driving for Bahari' Racing. He never achieved his promise driving for Roush. He finished 20th in points in 1998 and is currently 25th. In less than two seasons and 55 starts, he has three top-five and eight top-10 finishes. His best finish was fourth in 1998.

While Roush's lead NASCAR Winston Cup Series teams, for driver Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, have contended for series championships and scored 14 victories in the past two seasons, his three other teams have by-and-large struggled. Roush will add a NASCAR Winston Cup team that he will co-own with Martin in 2000 for current NASCAR Busch Series championship contender Matt Kenseth.

Roush Racing does not have a primary sponsor under contract to operate the No. 26 program in 2000, but plans to continue its search for sponsorship to keep the team in place, the statement said.

"It would be unfair at this time of year to hold Johnny to his contract for next year without another primary sponsor in place," Roush said. "We remain committed to improving the performance of the team and expect that Johnny will give his best efforts to the end of the year.

"We have made several changes in 1999, including the assignment of Buddy Parrott to help the team, and have several more changes for 2000 in the works, which we intend to still implement subject to sponsorship. While Johnny will no longer be part of our team, we wish him the best for the future."

"I appreciate the effort Jack Roush and the team have made on my behalf," Benson said in the statement, "and appreciate Jack's flexibility in allowing me to search for another ride."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Johnny Benson , Jack Roush , Mark Martin