If momentum really exists then ...
If momentum really exists then #10 Valvoline Pontiac Driver Johnny Benson and his teammates have it this weekend as they race at Pocono International Raceway. Benson posted a season-best, fifth-place finish on Sunday in Dover utilizing a fast car and some quick pit stops to climb up from his 30th starting spot.
Ryan Newman secured the victory at Dover by not allowing Tony Stewart to make up a lap he lost after a mid-race penalty. Benson said the "gentlemen's agreement" not to race back to the caution and giving lapped cars their lap back is a two-way street that in practice often benefits the leader and the lapped car.
He explains how the agreement works during a race.
Benson On The Leader And Lap Cars:
"I don't think I would have done a thing different than what Ryan did. You don' t mind giving back laps to cars that are struggling, but when a car is as fast as Tony's was on Sunday I think it was pretty smart to do what Ryan did. Hey, on Sunday keeping Tony a lap down may have won him the race.
"If you are about to go down a lap and you see the leader in your mirror what happens more often than not is the leader's spotter will tell your spotter that if you let him around he will give you the lap back when the caution comes out - assuming you are reasonably close to him at the time. The flip side of that is if you think that leader won't give you that lap back then you are going to race him as hard as you can to stay on the lead lap. That allows the second- and third-place guys to catch up to him and it also increases the chances for a wreck.
"It's a judgment call. I'm not sure there is anything Nascar can really do about that. It's something between us drivers. You remember who was good to you and who isn't good to you. I've been on both sides of the fence. We got messed up by lap cars last year and it costs us a victory in New Hampshire and I've gotten out of the way for leaders before when they agreed to give me a lap back and it ended up working to both our advantage."
Benson on Momentum:
"I don't know if momentum really exists. But I do think you can take a more positive attitude into a weekend than you would normally - a good run the weekend before will make you think better about everything. I think we will have that this weekend. To finish fifth at Dover was good for us. It got us back to the level where we expect to be. (Crew Chief) James (Ince) came up with a good setup and strategy, the guys on the pit crew gained us a ton of spots during the race and I think I held up my end so we all took something positive out of Dover. Now we hope we can carry that over to Pocono. After runs like Dover you can't wait to get to the track. It's all good after running well."
"I think we have qualified in the top ten five of the last six times so I hope that continues this weekend. Pocono is a pretty important place because we will race there in two of the next seven races. It's a place we all know pretty well. You don't see a lot of teams going there to test because everyone knows what they want to do setup wise at Pocono. It's three different turns connected by straight-aways. You pick which turns you want to get through the quickest and then you hope your engine will carry down the straightaway faster than the other guys."