#10 Valvoline Pontiac Driver Jerry Nadeau will get to race as close to his hometown as he ever will this weekend when the 31-year-old Danbury, Conn. native replaces the injured Johnny Benson for Sunday's Nascar Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Benson is recovering from three broken ribs suffered in a July 6 accident at Daytona.
The Winston Cup Series last visited New Hampshire in July 2001. Since then, NHIS expanded the track surface by 12 feet in all four turns hoping the 92-foot wide configuration in the corners will create a second racing groove.
Valvoline Crew Chief James Ince is a bit skeptical. He served as Crew Chief for a Busch team at an NHIS race in May and got an early glimpse at the new configuration. He said fans shouldn't expect too much of a difference in the racing.
Nadeau On Driving #10 Valvoline Pontiac:
"I hate the circumstances because Johnny is a friend and I don't like seeing my friends get hurt, but we have a job to do this weekend and that's give the Valvoline Pontiac the best run we can give it. We are getting more and more familiar with each other the longer we stay together and I think you will start seeing that chemistry show up on the race track."
Nadeau On New Hampshire:
"It's a great race track for me. I have won three races up there in open wheel cars. We finished fourth and sixth in the last two years in Winston Cup races, I know they have changed the track, but I don't know how it is going to be for the Cup guys. The Busch guys said there are areas we can pass and that will help us put on a better show for the fans. Even before, if you have a good car you can pass at New Hampshire and I expect it will be the same this weekend."
Did NHIS Play A Role In Your Career?
"I didn't do any other stock car racing except for getting into Winston Cup. I moved down South and went racing. I know they had a lot of Busch North and a Busch South races there before they got the Cup dates. So I can't say (NHIS) directly benefited me getting into stock cars but it has a lot of other guys. Like I said I won three open wheel races there and that helped my career. As a racer you will go to where you have to go to race whether you live in California or Maine. Everybody told me you had to move down South and find a team to go racing with. I'm glad they have a track up there and I think it will open the door for more and more racers.
How Many Passes Do You Plan To Give Out?
"I'm not much into giving out passes. My Mom and Dad will be up there and I will have a couple of friends. I hope we put on a good show for them."
Crew Chief James Ince On New Hampshire's New Configuration At The Busch Race:
"It appeared people were better and I guess it looked a little easier to pass, but as a crew chief I couldn't tell that they did anything. The drivers all ranted and raved after the Busch race about how nice it was, but I just couldn't see much of a difference
"In any case, Loudon is a place that I enjoy going to. It's a challenging racetrack, but we've got a really good setup there.
"We like the place a whole lot, and any added opportunity to pass there is a good thing. Essentially, what I saw was that they made the apron to where it's got grip on it to where you can actually run down on the apron.
"For us, we're very much looking forward to going up there and glad we're taking Jerry Nadeau with us as our driver. We don't have a ton of experience with Jerry, but we do have some and now we get to take him to a racetrack where this race team is very strong."
Will New Configuration Change The Setup?
"I don't think so. With the Busch car we ran basically the same setup that we've always run there and felt really good about it. I don't think it's going to change a whole lot of anything for anybody. Now, I do know that they went back and did some repaving a couple weeks ago because they had some trouble. Anytime you've got new pavement it throws a curve at you. But, that is a really fundamental racetrack. You go there and if you do the right things to your race car, you can run well. Anytime we go somewhere that it's not an aero situation and you're back to springs and shocks, we feel like our chances go up substantially.
"We work really hard week in and week out to make these things drive good. This is a place that gets back to short-track racing, which is what we're accustomed to. We like going to flat racetracks. When you go to a flat racetrack, it definitely equals out the aero side of things."
Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America:
Nadeau is racing this week for the Flint, Mich. Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America. Each week Valvoline donates money to the national Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America organization as well as an individual local chapter based on the Valvoline Pontiac's on-track performance. Valvoline matches the performance by donating $5,000 for a win, $2,500 for a pole, $1,000 for a top ten 10 finish, $500 for a top 20 finish and $20 for each lap led. The 3-year program has raised over $750,000.