Benson returns home to Michigan; race preview

Benson Returns Home To Michigan ...

Benson Returns Home To Michigan

#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson goes home to familiar territory this weekend when his Valvoline race team visits Michigan Speedway. Benson grew up a few hours west of the track in Grand Rapids, Mich. Although he now lives in Charlotte, Benson considers Grand Rapids his hometown. He will visit friends and family in Grand Rapids on Thursday as well as make a Valvoline appearance then travel to Michigan Speedway.

Benson Notes:

* Benson has finished seventh or better in seven of the 13 races in 2001. Benson is one of the seven drivers that have scored seven or more top-10 finishes in the first 13 races of the season.

* Benson scored one of his two career Bud Pole Awards at Michigan in August 1997. He has three top-10 finishes in 10 career races at the two mile oval, with his best, a fifth, occurring there last fall.

* As a 7-year-old he started working in his father John Benson's Grand Rapids race shop selling parts and even welding. By the time he was 19 years old it was time for him to replace Dad as the family racer and he began working his way through late models earning track championships. He went on to the American Speed Association where he won the rookie of the year award in 1990 and the championship in 1993.

* Benson's first try in NASCAR came when he climbed into Ernie Irvan's Busch car in front of the homefolks at Michigan Speedway in 1993 only to go barrel-rolling down the backstretch on lap 3. The car now sits at the bottom of a pond at Irvan's house.

Racing at Michigan Speedway:

"That's always a track where I like to race. Obviously, that's because I grew up a few hours from there. I like to see a lot of friends, family, and the people that have helped me in my career. Racing in front of the home folks is something you always like to do. Is it extra pressure? Not really. I would like to win any race but yes winning Michigan would be a wonderful dream. I've had some good runs there but like I said last year I think this time I'm bringing the best car and best team I've ever had. We have had some tough luck in the last two weeks but we have run well. This is as excited as I have ever been about coming home and racing. Sometimes all these tracks start to blend together and you can't remember if that restaurant is on that corner of if it was in Pocono or was that Dover. I don't have that problem when I come to Michigan. I always know where everything is at Michigan."

Do You Try Anything Different For Michigan Speedway?

"Other than it being it in my home state, that is the only difference in our approach. We try to make it like every other weekend. You don't want to try to hard because that usually makes things worse. You want to do what you normally do and things will be fine. You can't perform your best if you are pressing."

Benson On Michigan Speedway:

"Michigan is right up there with the fastest tracks where we race. It's a two-mile track with a real wide racing groove. It produces some great racing. Its downfall is that because it is three grooves they have very few cautions and it becomes a fuel mileage race that isn't what everybody looks forward to. You start thinking fuel mileage before the start of the race. You know it's going to probably end up on fuel."

Did You Dream Of NASCAR When You Watched Your Father Race Here?

"Not then. That was quite a while ago and I was only 11 years old. I remember watching it though. I don't think he particularly cared for it. It was a neat opportunity for him, but it wasn't with a particularly strong team. He ran Ok, they had a couple problems. They didn't have any tires. There were a lot of things they didn't have. He thought it was a good experience, but I don't think it was something he really liked. At that point in time I was used to the Saturday night type racing. So, I didn't have any real desire to do NASCAR racing back then." <pre> THE RACE: Kmart 400 Winston Cup Race #14 of 36 for the 2001 season

Race: Sunday, June 10, 2001 in Brooklyn, MI

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: Tony Stewart, 143.926mph Track Race Record: Dale Jarrett, June 1999, 173.997mph (no cautions) Track/Race Length: 2.0 oval, 200 laps, 400 miles Pit Road Speed: 45mph

Practice Practice: Friday, June 8th from 12:00 - 2:00pm/et Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, June 9th from 10:30am - 12:00noon/et, TV-FX?

Qualifying Qualifying Draw: Friday, June 8th at 11:00am/et Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-36, Friday, June 8th at 3:10pm/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

Second-Round Qualifying: there is no longer a 2nd round of qualifying

Event Qualifying Record: Dale Jarrett, June 2000, 189.883mph Track Qualifying Record: Dale Earnhardt Jr, August 2000, 191.149mph Last Year's Pole Sitter: Dale Jarrett, 189.883mph(finished 4th)

Track Specs: Superspeedway: 2.0-mile D-shaped oval Banking: turns: 18 degrees; straights: frontstretch 12 degrees, backstretch 5 degrees Backstretch Length: 2,242 feet; Front stretch Length: 2,229 feet Pit lane is 50 feet wide and contains space for 44 individual pit areas


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Tony Stewart , Johnny Benson