Brainerd: Benza pleased with improved performance

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19) -- Pro Stock driver Bob Benza was pleased with his return to action at this weekend's 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, even though he came up three hundredths of a second short of earning an ...

BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19) -- Pro Stock driver Bob Benza was pleased with his return to action at this weekend's 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, even though he came up three hundredths of a second short of earning an elimination round berth. Driving his brand new Pontiac Grand Am, Benza, a 41-year-old from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., made marked improvements in three successive qualifying sessions as his race team continues to close in on the perfect set-up.

"We made a lot of progress and I'm pretty pleased with the weekend," Benza said. "We're at a point now where we're narrowing down our tune-up. Whenever you have a new car it takes a lot of time and a lot of laps until you find exactly how the car will respond. You start with this huge, wide-open spectrum of possibilities and then you start picking away. This weekend showed me that we've arrived at a point where we're very close to having a competitive race car."

Like most of the cars in the ultra-competitive class, Benza's best run of the race came in Round 3 Saturday morning. That's when he took advantage of the cooler temperatures brought on by an overnight rainstorm and peeled off a 7.037-second pass at 195.79 mph. The run left him just four spots out of the 7.000-second bump.

"If I had made a better call with the car that round we would have easily run a 6.98," Benza said. "But, I didn't make the right moves. It doesn't take much to be off by a lot. I just made a bad call at the crucial moment of qualifying, that's all. So we'll learn from this and move on.

"We plan to go straight to Indy this week and test during their open testing session. Obviously, the U.S. Nationals are next on the schedule and that's the biggest drag race of the year. We want to do well there and we fully expect to make the show. We've got some new carburetors we'll be trying out and the guys want to change the four-link up a bit and move some weight around. We're almost where we need to be. I'm excited about the future of this race team."

Interested parties can watch the 20th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals from 5-7 p.m. (ET) today on ESPN2. A rebroadcast of the race will take place from 4-6 a.m. (ET), August 30, also on ESPN2.

--BMS

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Benza