Former Busch Series Champion Johnny Benson To drive ...
Former Busch Series Champion Johnny Benson To drive #31 Whelen Monte Carlo.
James Ince will crew chief the Ted Marsh Racing entry in limited race schedule
NASCAR Winston Cup driver Johnny Benson, a former Busch Series Champion, will drive the #31 Whelen Monte Carlo for Ted Marsh Racing in several races in the 2002 Busch Series. Benson makes his first appearance in Marsh's Whelen Monte Carlo at Richmond on May 3.
James Ince, Benson's Winston Cup crew chief, will serve in the same role with Marsh Racing. Ince will also utilize crewmembers from Benson's #10 Valvoline Pontiac as a pit crew during the Busch races.
Benson said his return to the Busch Series, where he won the championship in 1995, is about winning both at the Busch Series level and Winston Cup level where he drives the #10 Valvoline Pontiac.
"The first thing people are going to ask is why are we Busch racing and why did we pick Marsh Racing," said Benson. "Those answers are easy. First and foremost we want to win races, we also want to see if what we learn in Busch races translates to our Winston Cup program. Marsh Racing provided us the perfect opportunity to do a limited race schedule with a very professional race team. Plus, the Whelen folks are the kind of people you want to be associated with in our sport. Whelen and everyone at the Valvoline team have both been great to make this happen."
Benson isn't a stranger to Victory Lane on the Busch circuit. He won races at Dover, Hickory, and Atlanta during the 1994 and 1995 seasons in which he competed as a regular in the Busch Series. Since moving to Winston Cup Benson has competed in occasional Busch races for Bace Motorsports and none since 1999.
Team owner Ted Marsh said his Old Lyme, Conn. team, that has posted seven Busch North Series victories as well as fielded several top finishers in the Busch Series for Steve Park in the last two years, can't wait to race again.
"We couldn't turn down an opportunity to race with someone of Johnny's talent and abilities. Nor could we refuse the opportunity to work with James Ince and his crew. Our guys are pretty pumped up about the season. We have been sitting at home the first part of the year and can't wait to start testing with Johnny and James and then get back to racing. We came close to winning last year and I hope this puts us over the top."
Whelen Motorsports Director Phil Kurze said the deal came together in the last few weeks.
"We started talking in March and our objectives coincided with their objectives so we got the deal done as quickly as possible," Kurze said. "The Whelen employees take their racing seriously and I think we are giving them an effort that can win races. Johnny has our employees support. Marsh Racing gave Steve Park some very good cars last season and we have no doubt it will do the same with Johnny this season."
For more than 40 years, the Chester, Conn. company has provided innovative emergency lighting and siren products in the automotive, aviation, industrial and civil defense (emergency management) and traffic management markets. Whelen is a sponsor in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series as well as the official supplier of safety lights for Pontiac's NASCAR Winston Cup pace cars. Whelen's emergency warning lights are also visible on the Official NASCAR safety vehicles as well as the safety vehicles used at several Busch and Winston Cup tracks.
#31 Whelen Monte Carlo will appear in these five races. More races could be announced later in the 2002 season. <pre> Date Venue TV/Start Radio/Start 05/03/02 Richmond Int'l Raceway FX/7 p.m. MRN/7:15 p.m. 05/11/02 New Hampshire Int'l Speedway FX/12:30 p.m. MRN/12:30 p.m. 06/01/02 Dover Downs Int'l Speedway FX/12:30 p.m. MRN/12:30 p.m. 07/13/02 Chicagoland Speedway NBC/TBA MRN/3 p.m. 08/17/02 Michigan Int'l Speedway TNT/TBA MRN/12:30 p.m.