BUSCH: Preseason Thunder Day 12: Biffle, Benson return with a vengeance

NASCAR Preseason Thunder Day 11: Biffle, Benson return to full-time competition in NASCAR Busch Series with a vengeance. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2004) -- Greg Biffle (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) and Johnny Benson (No. 1 Yellow ...

NASCAR Preseason Thunder Day 11: Biffle, Benson return to full-time competition in NASCAR Busch Series with a vengeance.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2004) -- Greg Biffle (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) and Johnny Benson (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) were both on the track at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday for the NASCAR Busch Series portion of NASCAR Preseason Thunder.

Each is hoping to capture a second series championship in 2004 -- Benson won the 1995 crown and Biffle the 2002 title. Benson comes to the series after spending the last eight years at NASCAR's highest level, while Biffle will attempt to do "Iron Man" duty and run every race on both circuits this year. So ... their perspectives are a little different.

Biffle hopes to have his difficult schedule worked out in the near future.

"We're still working on the logistics of getting back and forth right now," Biffle said. "There are some travel issues that we're trying to bridge with finding some aircraft to lease or do something with. We're working on that part of it, but that can be done pretty easily."

As for Daytona, Biffle wasn't exactly thrilled with his Roush Racing Ford. He was 18th fastest out of 30 cars in the first session, and 17th in the second.

"The Busch car isn't up to speed like we need it to be," Biffle said. "Our other car didn't get done in time, so we basically have a spare car here that we don't anticipate bringing back, except maybe as a spare. That being the case, we're kind of going through the motions right now. It's possible that we'll bring this car back, so we've got to be here right now to know that we've got something to bring back in case something happens to the other car or if it doesn't run fast."

Benson has been with Phoenix Racing less than a week, so there's been precious little time to gel with his Spartanburg, S.C.-based team. He's taking a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to what he expects from the 2004 season.

"I hope we're competitive," Benson said. "I've only run two years in Busch. I've had good success in it. We finished sixth my rookie year in the points and I won the championship. The goal, obviously, would be to come and try to run for the championship again. Whether that would be realistic or not, we'll find out. [Phoenix Racing] has run good in the races they competed in, but now, we have to run a full season."

NEWS OF NOTE

Leffler fastest on Tuesday ... Jason Leffler (No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) was fastest on the third day of the NASCAR Busch Series portion of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, and the first for teams that finished in the even numbers of the 2003 owner standings. Leffler toured the 2.5-mile track at a speed of 179.662 mph during the first session. Leffler had the strongest cars all day, setting the two fastest times in separate cars during the morning and afternoon trials. Leffler put down the day's fastest time in one car during the first session, and then ran 178.511 in the other during the first session. In the afternoon practice, Leffler ran speeds of 179.261 and 178.870. Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet) was third-fastest in both morning and afternoon sessions, while Ron Hornaday (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) was fourth-fastest in the morning test period. Robby Gordon (No. 55 Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet) was fifth-fastest in the morning session, and fourth in the afternoon. Another rookie contender, Paul Menard (No. 33 Menards Chevrolet), was fifth-fastest in the final warm-up of the day. So far, Joe Nemechek (No. 87 CellularOne Chevrolet) has the fastest time overall during the Daytona session. Nemechek turned in a lap of 181.097 during the afternoon session on Saturday, Jan. 17.

On tap ... Ron Hornaday, Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) and Kyle Busch round out the interview slate for the media portion of the final NASCAR Preseason Thunder session on Wednesday.

Notes ... The NASCAR Preseason Thunder Media Website is online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/media. Speeds, quotes, daily test reports and hi-res photos from all NASCAR Preseason Thunder test sessions are available for download.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Busch Series Preseason Thunder.
Where: Daytona International Speedway.

When: Jan. 17-21.
Track layout: 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Test schedule:

Wednesday -- NASCAR Busch Series (even).

Rain date:

Thurs. -- NASCAR Busch Series (even).

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Johnny Benson , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Paul Menard , Kyle Busch
Teams Phoenix Racing