BENSON TOURS MIS RENOVATIONS; LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURN TO HOMETOWN TRACK IN JUNE BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Hometown favorite Johnny Benson has had his ups and "upside downs" at Michigan International Speedway over the years, with his MIS debut in a...
BENSON TOURS MIS RENOVATIONS; LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURN TO HOMETOWN TRACK IN JUNE
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Hometown favorite Johnny Benson has had his ups and "upside downs" at Michigan International Speedway over the years, with his MIS debut in a 1993 NASCAR Busch Series race ending upside down on the backstretch. But one thing is for certain, he's proud of his hometown track, which has provided plenty of memories for him during his 10 plus years racing at the 2-mile oval.
Benson stopped by MIS on Thursday to tour the largest renovation project in the history of the facility and to meet with the media to talk about the first ever June NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at MIS on June 18th.
"I enjoy coming here and I love racing here and every time we come through the doors its always been open arms for the drivers, owners and race fans," said Benson, who will next wheel his No. 23 Toyota Tundra for Bill Davis Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on June 18 at MIS. "I'm proud to say that I'm from this area. To say that this is my home race track on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is something I'm very proud of. With all the new renovations I'm even more proud of it today than ever."
Benson, who said he has always enjoyed MIS for its side-by-side racing, feels that not only will the racers be impressed with the changes for 2005 and beyond, but what it really benefits are the thousands of fans who descend upon MIS for its three big race weekends.
"For the people that come out and support this racetrack there is now even more to see and do," said Benson. "It gives the fans even more to do before and after they watch us race. I haven't spent that much time on this side of the race track, but I do remember sitting in the grandstands watching my dad race here when I was 10 years old."
The project, expected to be completed prior to the season opening Father's Day Weekend tripleheader, which includes the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the ARCA RE/MAX Series, includes a reconfiguration of the "front door" to the speedway now called the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza. The 26-acre area includes a newly redesigned area for merchandise trailers, corporate displays and a plaza area where fans can relax and also take in the Walk of Champions, which will honor all of the great racing champions at MIS since it opened in 1968 to the present.
Currently, the AAA Motorsports Fan Plaza is taking shape with construction crews moving dirt and readying the area for paving.
The other part of the renovation project includes a tri-level tower which holds the brand new Champions Club presented by AAA, corporate suites, and an additional space for media partners and sanctioning body race operations. The new Champions Club presented AAA, Suites and Race Operations level concrete has been poured and workers are busily installing heating and cooling, while also building walls inside each area.
While the renovations are a big part of the improvements that at MIS for 2005, another big improvement will be the schedule, with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series running in June along with the ARCA RE/MAX Series and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Benson will be the first to tell you that it's a great enhancement for the fans as well as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"To come here on a NEXTEL Cup weekend where there will be a lot of people to see a great race is very exciting," Benson said. "That's only better for the Craftsman Truck Series and it's better for me because I'll have even more fans here to cheer me on."
In last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at MIS, Benson made his series debut in a Toyota for Bill Davis Racing, a seat which he held for the rest of the year and into 2005. While he had no experience with the race team prior to last year's MIS race, he worked his way through the field from the 31st starting position to finish a solid fourth.
"Bill Davis called with an opportunity to run here at MIS and I said yea, I have to, it's my hometown track, he said. Usually in the (NEXTEL) Cup car it seems like the race is very long and I was running really well and we were making adjustments and cruised around for awhile. I finally asked how many laps there were to go and he said 29, I was like, I better get going! From there, with Bill spotting, we were able to work our way up and ended fourth which was a great day for us."
"Bill was happy and had a good time after the race and we were chuckling about it," Benson went on to say. "It was my first race here in a truck and I was being careful and watching what everyone was doing and all the sudden the day went by really quickly. I was used to being in a 3 ½ to 4 hour race so the shorter race really caught me off guard."
After visiting his hometown NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series track, Benson can't wait to come back in June and improve on last year's fourth place finish.
"I'm excited coming here to MIS. One because it's my hometown, two because I think we're going to have a pretty competitive truck and third and upmost is to see all the improvements when they are done. I can't wait to see it in June."
"I like the construction part of it and I like to build race cars from the ground up and see the process," he added. "It's an honor to come out and see it now and then get to see it in June when it's all done."
Tickets to all 2005 events at MIS are on still available, including the season-opening Father's Day weekend, which includes exciting enhancements to the weekend schedule, including the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz Group 200 on June 17, the MIS June debut of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on June 18 and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series on June 19. Tickets can be purchased by logging on to www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.