JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: WAS THE KICK-OUT ON THE CHEVY THE REASON THEY DOMINATED QUALIFYING YESTERDAY? "I think some of it is. But, also too, a couple of the teams you see up there are definitely great race teams....
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
WAS THE KICK-OUT ON THE CHEVY THE REASON THEY DOMINATED QUALIFYING YESTERDAY?
"I think some of it is. But, also too, a couple of the teams you see up there are definitely great race teams. But, I don't think the kick-out hurt them at all. [Bill]E Elliott has pretty much been the standard for qualifying and he ends up back a little ways. But, that's fine. There is nothing wrong with that."
COULD YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE IN THE PONTIAC YESTERDAY WITH THE ADDITIONAL HALF-INCH OF KICK-OUT?
"I could tell a little bit of a difference, but you're only talking a half an inch. It's pretty hard to tell. An inch, I could see that being a huge deal.
"Everything helps. But, when you try to get help and they give twice as much to the other guy, then it's something that is very hard to feel and judge. But, that's fine. That's what we've got to deal with. We just have to work on our race car."
HOW LONG IS YOUR CONTRACT EXTENSION?
"It's two years. It's pretty standard. I think we've got a pretty good race team. Otherwise, I would be looking for something else. I've been there three years and adding another two. We've got a good sponsor in Valvoline and a new car with Pontiac, and a great group of guys. James Ince is doing a tremendous job. I'm looking forward to the future.
"We've got a good race team. Obviously, it hasn't show at all this year. But, in the same token, we've got a good group of guys. We're just a little bit behind, but we'll get back up on top and be fine."
YOU MENTIONED YOU'D LIKE TO RETIRE WITH THIS TEAM...YOU'RE NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT, ARE YOU?
"Why not? Heck, throw it out there. You see what it did for [Ricky] Rudd.
"No, not really. Eventually, I'm going to retire -- just not in two years."
ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A TEAMMATE NEXT YEAR?
"You'd have to ask them, but as far as I know, we are. Obviously, with M&M's moving over to the Yates deal, it's something that is a concern to us - just trying to find a sponsor. We've got some people that we're talking to. The only concern is - today, the way the economy is -- to be able to find the right sponsor to be able to come over there with the money it takes to run in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. That's the only concern that we've got, as far as that. It'll be a difficult task for them, but they'll get it done and we're not going to worry about it. We worry about the '10' car and that is what we do.
"I don't want to see it go away. You've got to have two teams. Three teams are more economical to run; four teams are even more. You've got to utilize everything that you've got as far as machinery and wind tunnel dates and things of this nature. It costs more money to have a second, but it's less money per team, as you put multiple teams in."
DID YOU RACE AT YOUR TRACK IN BERLIN ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT?
"Yep, we ran up there on Wednesday. Ken Schrader came up there and had a good time. We were fortunate enough to win and Kenny finished third. It was a good time. I hate that the weather was bad because we didn't have as many people there as what we would have liked to have seen. We probably only had a little over five or six thousand people, and we expected to see about 10 (thousand). But, the weather was bad. It rained all day and it just barely cleared up for the race itself. Plus, it was on TV, so I think half of the people stayed home and watched it on TV and stayed out of the weather."
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET BACK UP THERE?
"Four times a year. That is what I run. That's fun. I love going up there to the home track and do a little racing and build my own cars. It was satisfying to finally win with the thing because I have really struggled with it. Each night I've gotten better with it, but my testing dates are when I go up there and race, as opposed to being able to take it somewhere."
ARE THERE TOO MANY RULES AND REGULATIONS IN NASCAR WINSTON CUP RACING?
"I think you've got to have certain boundaries. I believe that. But, I think we've seen at times, though, when you get certain teams or manufacturers that do an excellent job at getting a good car that they either take something away or give it to somebody else. That part makes it difficult, being a racer. But, you understand that you want to have parity in the sport, too, so it's kind of a 'catch-22' You don't want to come to the race and just see one guy whoop on them week in and week out. You see it sometimes on the local series where that happens, and you get halfway through the race and the grandstands leave. We don't need that. But, I think as they move forward going toward a common template it will bring out more what race teams can do with their race cars as opposed to, 'Well, if you're a little bit behind, then we'll just move the nose out on certain makes.' That part of it needs to be equalized. Once they get a spot, then just leave it alone and leave it right there."
DID YOU WEAR A FLAK JACKET IN THE CAR AFTER YOU RETURNED FROM YOUR RIB INJURIES?
"That's hard to answer. No, I didn't wear a flak jacket, but in the same token, I've got a different style seat. I don't have a seat where your body is held up by your ribs. My body is held up by my shoulders. That is where the differences are. The flak jacket would really help out if you had a regular, 'rib style' seat where the pressure is directly on your ribs. I didn't have that and didn't have to deal with that. I did try one because everybody said, 'Oh, if you had worn one of those, it wouldn't have happened,' which is not the case. So, I put one on and threw that thing out the first time I used it. It depends on the different circumstances. But, the style seat I use (a 'Lajoie' seat), it didn't require that.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF A SEAT LIKE YOU USE?
"In our case, where we did break ribs, it was a fact that we hit the wall so hard that - you never hope that you have an acceptable injury - but, the goal in our deals today is to make sure to protect the head and neck where the serious injuries happen. If people walk away with an impact like that and just have a couple broken ribs, I'm not going to complain about it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT CHARLOTTE MOVING ITS FALL RACE TO SATURDAY NIGHT IN 2003?
"That would be great. I didn't know they were going to, but that's perfect. Now, if they could move it to Friday, that would be really awesome. But, Saturday night racing is way good. I'm not going to complain. Saturday night racing is what we all grew up doing. They can put them all on Saturday night, as far as I'm concerned. That's way cool.
"When are we going to qualify? Saturday morning? That would even be better."