Tires & History Highlight Traditional Southern 500 Race ...
Tires & History Highlight Traditional Southern 500 Race
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson believes tires and history will be the two main topics of conversation when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series races this weekend at Darlington Raceway. Darlington is the site of NASCAR's first 500-mile race won by Johnny Mantz on Sept. 4, 1950. Darlington also marks the beginning of the end of the 2001 season when teams starting to pay a bit more attention to the points race. Benson's team has set sixth place as a goal for the 2001 season. It is currently 11th only 124 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. in sixth.
* The tire compound Goodyear brings to Darlington this weekend is the same it used at Bristol Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway and North Carolina Speedway.
* There have been only five different race winners in the past 12 NASCAR Winston Cup races at the Darlington Raceway. Jeff Gordon (five), Dale Jarrett (three) and Jeff Burton (two) are the multiple race winners in the 12-race period. Ward Burton and Bobby Labonte (one each) are the other race winners in the 12-race period.
* Since 1955, only Bobby Labonte (37th in the fall of 2000) has won at Darlington from a starting position further back than 15th. Benson is the only driver to start the last two Darlington races in the top five.
Johnny Benson On Darlington Domination:
"I think Darlington is a place that once you figure out the qualifying setup and race setup you can get around pretty good. I think we are the only team that has qualified in the top five in the last two races at Darlington. We feel comfortable with our qualifying setup. We have raced well there. We got wrecked in September and then we finished seventh there in the Spring this year. Sure, we'd like to be part of the domination like those other guys. Darlington is NASCAR and full of history. That track hasn't changed much since they started racing there. Yes, it would be pretty cool to be part of the history if we could get our first win there."
Johnny Benson On Goodyear Tires At Darlington
"It will be the same old Darlington. I think this race will be just like the race in the Spring. I know we keep talking about it, but the new tires that Goodyear has come out with should make it a better race. I think the difference between Darlington and other places where this tire is used is that at Darlington you are still going to come into the pits whenever a yellow comes out. You might not do that at other places where this compound was raced."
Benson On Points Racing
"We are always looking at points but we aren't ready to points race yet. You are always looking to win. Our race strategies are designed to get us the victory not to accumulate points. This team has rolled the dice a few times going for the win. Sometimes it has worked sometimes it hasn't. But that isn't what a team whose just worried about points is going to do. We go for the win. Our goal is the top six but we still aren't there yet, so we are going to work hard to get there."
Crew Chief James Ince On Darlington
"I know Darlington is one of Johnny Benson's favorite tracks. Darlington is all about springs, shocks, and getting the right setup underneath the racecar. As a crew chief you can have a lot of impact. That's why I like it. I finished second here a few years ago with Ted Musgrave. We ran second in 1997 when he and Dale (Jarrett) were rubbing on the last lap for the win. Believe me I think about that race a lot and nothing would be better than getting a little bit of vengeance this weekend."
Benson Darlington Record
Race S F
03/18/2001 4 7
09/03/2000 2 38
03/19/2000 29 24
09/05/1999 20 32
03/21/1999 2 18
09/06/1998 11 21
03/22/1998 21 8
08/31/1997 18 19
03/23/1997 36 10
09/01/1996 27 11
03/24/1996 38 24