Valvoline Pontiac Driver Johnny Benson and his Crew Chief James Ince admit they aren't exactly thrilled with the prospect of road course racing. Both grew up racing Saturday nights on the short tracks in the Midwest. This weekend they tackle the...
Valvoline Pontiac Driver Johnny Benson and his Crew Chief James Ince admit they aren't exactly thrilled with the prospect of road course racing. Both grew up racing Saturday nights on the short tracks in the Midwest. This weekend they tackle the road course of Sears Pont Raceway in Sonoma, Cal. Even though it isn't their forte' the Valvoline team has worked hard to improve their road course program by building new cars as well as getting Benson more time turning left and right. Last week the team traveled to Virginia International Raceway to test on the road course. Benson doesn't have to battle just Winston Cup regulars but usually and handful of road course racers will be on hand to race making the task even more daunting.
Crew Chief James Ince On Road Courses:
"I'm not a fan of road courses. I've always said that if they want variety in this sport then forget road courses and let's all go dirt racing. That would be a lot better show. I think the fans would like it a lot better. Our guys would be more interesting on dirt. These guys could all handle dirt because they are great race car drivers. The fans would go nuts."
Ince On Road Course Strategy:
"On a road course right now there are only a few drivers who stand a chance of winning anyway. A lot of teams go to a road course not to race, but just to stay in line, hold their position and collect the points. The teams show up, turn the driver loose for two hours and tell him to call us on the radio when he gets better."
Johnny Benson On Road Courses:
"They are kind of fun. I'm glad we only have to do two a year. Now if they had a schedule with a lot more road courses then I might go find some other thing to do. You get better the more you run but by the same token everyone else does too. That keeps the playing field fairly equal."
Johnny Benson On Road Course Strategy:
"You run the best you can and you have to stay on the track. If you stay on the track, by the end of the day you should be in pretty good shape. You have to have good brakes, a good race car and a good engine like every other week. I think I'm a little bit harder on brakes than your standard road race guy. If I can keep brakes on my Valvoline Pontiac I think I will have an OK day. Before the race I tell myself that I have to get a good rhythm. That's a huge key. You are running the car side-to-side and these cars don't like that. They aren't built to do that. When you sit down to design a road course car, a Winston Cup car isn't what you would build. You would build something totally different. You just have to be smooth, consistent, get a good rhythm and work with it.
Can You Learn Anything From The Road Course Racers This Weekend?
"I think you can if you can stay with them. They have an advantage of knowing the racetrack. They have an advantage of knowing road course racing. It would be no different than if their series ever ran ovals and we came over and did that. We'd have an advantage. This weekend puts a lot of pressure on those guys because everyone thinks they are going to win."
<pre> THE RACE: Dodge/Save Mart 350 Winston Cup Race #16 of 36 for the 2001 season
Race: Sunday, June 24, 2001 in Sonoma, CA
TV: Fox 3:30pm/et(pre-race at 3:00pm/et)
TimeZone: Sears Point is in the Pacific Time Zone, all times posted here ar Eastern(3 hours ahead)
Announcers: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds
Pit Reporters: Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes
2000 Race Winner: Jeff Gordon, 78.789mph
Event Race Record: Jeff Gordon, 2000, 78.789mph
Track/Race Length: 2.0 road course, 112 laps
Pit Road Speed: 35mph
Practice: Friday, June 22th from 1:30 - 4:00pm/et
Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, June 23rd from 12:30 - 2:00pm/et, TV-none?
Qualifying Draw: Friday, June 22nd at 12:30pm/et
Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-36, Friday, June 22nd at 5:00pm/et, TV-Fox Sports Net(FSN) and live via PRN radio/internet
NASCAR.com 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
Track Qualifying Record: Rusty Wallace, June 2000, 99.309mph(1.94mile layout)
Last Year's Pole Sitter: Rusty Wallace, 99.309mph
Track Specs: 2.0 mile Road Course with 10 turns reconfigured from 1.94miles starting in 2001