Bristol II: Valvoine preview - James Ince


#10 Valvoline Pontiac Crew Chief James Ince knew aerodynamics was critical to the team's eighth-place finish last Sunday at Michigan. Body, front fenders, and spoiler placement had to be just right for the proper downforce needed to get through the turns and pass in the corners.

Saturday night at Bristol Ince knows if Johnny Benson's car takes the checkered flag at Bristol with the body, spoiler and fenders still in tact then it will probably have been a good night. That's because aerodynamics matter less at Bristol than most places.

Aerodynamics is a hot subject in the garage area these days and Ince has his own thoughts on the subject.


Benson equaled a career-best second-place finish at Bristol in March 2000.

Ince On Aerodynamics at Bristol:

"Everywhere we go this day and age is about aerodynamics, but aero is not nearly as important at Bristol as it is at some places we go which is one of the reasons it is kind of enjoyable for us to go there."

Ince On Nascar's Aerodynamic Problem:

"I agree that Nascar has created an aero push problem in our sport. We have harder tires that are an issue and way too much front downforce on these cars. The Pontiac teams have the oldest car out here and a year ago our cars were pretty good. Then they started making rule changes and making more downforce and it changed the whole complexion of the sport. I know Nascar is working really hard to get rid of the aero push, but the reason we have it is they are putting more and more downforce on these cars so when you lose just a little bit of downforce it becomes a major issue.

"Our cars have always pushed. If you go back 20 years you will see they pushed. But back then it was a drivable push. It was something the driver could keep working with. Until there is a major rules change - taking downforce off all the cars - you are going to have that."

Ince's Solutions:

"I'd recommend a lot of the things we did at the Charlotte test a few weeks ago. That means pulling the fenders in, going to the smaller spoiler, taking away front downforce and taking away some overall downforce while keeping the balance. Those are just a few things. Anything in which we can make it to where the driver can drive the car and the crew chief can work on the car will make the show better."

Ince On Suggestions To Limit Wind Tunnel Time:

"You can't outlaw wind tunnels. The wind tunnel has always been there. From day one I remember teams going to wind tunnels. It might have been in the past that only the top five teams would go, but these days all 43 cars go to the wind tunnel. Even if we reduce the downforce on the cars and make changes we are still going to go to the wind tunnel to see what we got. That's one of the tools we have to make ourselves better. We don't have unlimited testing at the tracks anymore. We have always thought we should reduce testing at the track but I'm not so sure we should keep doing that. If we opened up testing at the track more then we might not go to the wind tunnel as much. Id rather test at a track than a wind tunnel."

Ince On Secret to Bristol Success:

"I think Bristol is more luck than anything else. If you get your car driving well then the driver can go out there and do what he wants. The only trouble we have at Bristol is you are racing off what everyone else is doing. You can have the best car there and if somebody else makes a mistake then your day is going to end in a hurry. Bristol is a fundamental track as far as getting the springs and shocks right. You just have to get the driver right. If you think about it, after their first two runs on Friday most drivers come back into the pits dizzy. It takes a while for the guys to get their equilibrium to balance out so they can go back out there and drive the cars."

Johnny Benson On Tires Changing Strategy at Bristol:

"The harder tires have changed our racing at Bristol. I think it's for the better. Fans see more strategy, the teams have more chances to figure out ways to get to the front. Before, Bristol has been all about beating and banging. Now it's about beating, banging and thinking."

Benson On Racing At Night:

"I like racing at night. We all grew up Saturday night racing and that's what we like. It's cooler, there is less glare and the track stays more consistent, but it's really the atmosphere that makes night racing so much fun. The fans seem more intense than normal, the crew guys are hyped up and all that transfers to the drivers. Bristol might be the most exciting place we race."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Johnny Benson