#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson and his teammates begin Winter Testing at Daytona on Tuesday as part of a three-day Nascar test in preparation for the Feb. 16 Daytona 500.
Benson will drive the new 2003 Grand Prix in testing on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Teams are allowed to use computer telemetry during testing. The telemetry is outlawed for normal Winston race weekends.
The last time Benson sat behind the wheel of a race car was Nov. 19 as part of a two-day test immediately after the season-ending race in Homestead, Fla.
Benson On Testing:
"I'm kind of excited to get back in a race car. The break was relaxing and the holidays are always fun but this is about the time you start thinking about racing. Daytona is always such an exciting race and there's a ton of things to get prepared for and it all begins, for the driver at least, next week. I think testing for any of our races is important, but with some of the rule changes for 2003 and us having a new Pontiac it's going to be even more important."
Benson on Valvoline Team's Testing Plan:
"We will go through our list of probably 50 things we want to try on the car and we will pick out what works and what doesn't work. I guess the bottom line will be speed. With the fuel cell rule and the new car we will have a lot to work through. The superspeedways are always hit or miss. You are either going to be really good or really bad. If it goes good you have to see if you can make it through tech. It seems at Daytona we always have a surprise rule when you get down there. If the January test goes bad then the crew chief has his work cut out for him in the next few weeks trying to find the speed. He may cut up the car and try something else by the time we go back to Daytona for the race. Next week could mean the beginning of a lot of work for a lot of teams."
Benson On Testing For The Driver:
"You really don't get rusty in the off season. Superspeedway testing isn't a lot of fun for the driver. At that type of track it's all about the computers. You kind of hang on and drive the car around and when you pull back in the garage you can tell them what happened, but they are going to look at the computer to see what is going on."