Benson Pocono Father's Day preview

Benson: Watching Son Race Is As Difficult As Driving John Benson Hopes Father's Day Brings Win, But Having A Happy Son Is Most Important In its 1970 cover article, Stock Car Racing Magazine joked that John Benson' s "close cropped hair and...

Benson: Watching Son Race Is As Difficult As Driving

John Benson Hopes Father's Day Brings Win, But Having A Happy Son Is Most Important

In its 1970 cover article, Stock Car Racing Magazine joked that John Benson' s "close cropped hair and bushy mutton chops make him look more like your favorite bartender than a race driver." Yet this "favorite bartender" enjoyed a long racing career and posted more than 75 victories including 1966 National Supermodified Championship in Oswego, N.Y. - the "crown jewel" of the modified series at the time. He also started and continues to operate Benson Speed Equipment in Grand Rapids, Mich. where his young son Johnny learned the important, but less glamorous aspects of racing and life. Today the 61-year old Benson works in his race shop during the week and spends weekend watching his son Johnny drive the #10 Valvoline Pontiac in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

Nobody questions a race car driver's bravery. But the elder Benson admits watching his son race every week takes us much fortitude as strapping himself into a race car like he did for 28 years. This Sunday as American fathers unwrap ties from their families, John Benson will have his eyes glued on Pocono where he hopes his son can give him a Father's Day present he will never forget.

John Benson On His Father's Day Wish:

"My best Father's Day present would be a win. But if he doesn't win, just doing what he is doing is great because I would rather see him running in the top ten and top five than win one and run 20th every race. I don't think a win has to come to make a successful season for Johnny, but it would be really nice. It coming on Father's Day would make it even nicer."

What Does a Father Think Watching His Son Race?

"You have to be quite concerned for him because he is your kid. That's utmost on your mind. But you also want to see him do well and do what he likes to do. You can't take him out of what he likes to do and he wouldn't listen to you anyhow if you tried to get him out of racing. It's pretty scary to see him running 200 mph in a pack of 40 cars. It's not only that he could make a mistake, but there are 40 other drivers out there that could as well and make a big wreck that would involve him."

Does Your Racing Involvement Make It Easier Or Worse Watching Johnny?

"It makes it worse. You know all the pitfalls that can happen on the race track. Of course I drove over 100 mph and have run at Michigan once, but I never ran the 200 mph like they run at Talladega or as fast as they will run at Pocono this weekend down the front stretch and into the first turn there. When you crash at those speeds its hard on the driver."

What Do You Do During Races?

"I kind of ride along with him. You look at the guys he is coming up on and say ' that's a really good driver and I don't have to worry about him or this one that's third up there he is going to have a problem getting around him or he could get in trouble trying to pass him.' That's always a concern when I watch races. So many things can happen."


Benson has finished seventh or better in seven of the 14 races in 2001.

Benson is one of seven drivers that have scored seven or more top-10 finishes this season.

Benson trails sixth-place Rusty Wallace by 13 points and is 36 points behind fifth-place Tony Stewart.

Benson finished 12th in the last race at Pocono.

THE RACE: Pocono 500
Winston Cup Race #15 of 36 for the 2001 season

Race: Sunday, June 17, 2001 in Long Pond, PA

TV: Fox 1:00pm/et(pre-race at 12:30pm/et)

Announcers: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds

Pit Reporters: Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes

2000 Race Winner: Jeremy Mayfield

Event Race Record: Alan Kulwicki, 1992, 144.023mph

Track/Race Length: 2.5 tri-oval, 200 laps, 500 miles

Pit Road Speed: 55mph

Practice: Friday, June 15th from 11:30am - 1:30pm/et; Saturday, June 16th from 9:00-9:45am/et

Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, June 16th from 11:15am - 12:15?pm/et, TV-FX, tape delay 6:30pm/et

Qualifying Draw: Friday, June 15th at 10:30am/et

Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-36, Friday, June 15th at 2:30pm/et, TV-Fox Sports Net(FSN) and live via MRN radio/internet will have live lap-by-lap coverage of Winston Cup qualifying via the web using it's Racecast feature

Event Qualifying Record: Rusty Wallace, June 2000, 171.625mph

Track Qualifying Record: Tony Stewart, July 2000 172.391mph

Last Year's Pole Sitter: #2-Rusty Wallace, 171.625mph

Track Specs: Superspeedway: 2.5 mile tri-oval
Banking: turn 1: 14 degrees, turn 2: 8 degree, turn 3: 6 degrees;
Straights: Front - 3740 feet, Long Pond(between turns 1 and 2) - 3055 feet, North(between turns 2 and 3) - 1780 feet

-Drew Brown

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Drew Brown , Alan Kulwicki