Charlotte: Nadeau, Valvoline preview

Valvoline Charlotte Preview The ...

Valvoline Charlotte Preview

The #10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Jerry Nadeau admits being a substitute driver is tough. Regular driver Johnny Benson says being a spectator is tougher while Crew Chief James Ince says maintaining communications among team and new drivers is the toughest of the tasks.

The two drivers and crew chief plan to work together this weekend in preparation for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' Charlotte 600. Nadeau will climb behind the wheel while Ince and Benson stand on the team's pit box just like last Saturday in the Winston Open where Nadeau was fast at times but handling problems left him with a sixth-place finish in the final segment.

Once those problems are cured the team expects to contend on Sunday despite the obstacles created by Benson's rib injury at Richmond and the limited time the team and Nadeau have worked together. Ince said the team is making progress with Nadeau, Benson is making progress in his recovery, and next year's Pontiac is making progress with NASCAR.

Notes:

* Roman Pemberton is the new spotter for the #10 Valvoline team.

* Nadeau led three laps in this race last year at the #25 and 115 laps in 2000.

* Nadeau will drive the black Eagle One paint scheme this weekend.

Johnny Benson on Watching The Winston From The Pit Box:
"It was OK but I wouldn't want to do it too many more times. You get a different angle on what's going on out there on the track and how the cars are handling. I helped James a bit during the race and then Jerry and I talked a long time after the race. It's just a matter of supporting the team and offering any help I can to Jerry or James. But, I'd rather be holding the steering wheel in the car than a team radio up on the pit box. I'm not a very good spectator that's for sure."

Jerry Nadeau On First Time Driving The Valvoline Pontiac:
"Things have been going well. We didn't finish like we wanted Saturday. We were just a bit too tight setup wise. The guys did a good job. That was our first run together. We tried a bunch a stuff to get it fixed. The second segment was really good the first five laps. I think we will be pretty good this weekend. Johnny and I have different driving styles so we are trying to make adjustments for that. It's been fun with this team."

Jerry Nadeau On Expectations for Charlotte 600 on Sunday:
"This is a good race car. Sure the drivers make a big difference here but you also have to have a good car underneath you. When we get more laps we will be headed in the right direction. I think the weather will be different for this weekend and I'm sure the track is going to change. It should be much warmer than Winston weekend. This track is real temperature sensitive. The cold air created a lot more grip for the cars Saturday and for the cars that were tight the weather conditions really exaggerated the problems. I don't expect that for this weekend."

Crew Chief James Ince On Charlotte 600:
"It's going to be a big difference for us this weekend. We have a race car driver different from the one we have had for the past two-and-a-half years. We are still solid, still a very good race team. We are confident in our abilities as a team to go and perform well. Jerry is going to do a good job for us. But changing drivers does create a lot of different pressures and things you have to go figure out. If we were to go win Charlotte then we would be the smartest guys in the world because I have never seen anybody come out of the box and win a race with a new guy. But, there is a first time for everything."

Should NASCAR Develop A Point System That Allows Drivers Time To Heal and Still Stay In The Points Race?
"I don't know what the answer is there. All of us are racers and realize guys are going to get hurt and we are still going to have to go race. We have sponsors who believe we are supposed to go do our best whether the crew chief or driver is there or not. They want performance and are entitled to performance. I don't know what the answer is about the point system. If the sponsors and team owners would like to implement something like that then it would be fine with me and it would be nice for drivers to get time to recuperate and still be in the points race. This is a tough deal. Our schedule is extremely tough. There is no room for error. It's a zero defect business. You have a problem you have to deal with it."

You Have Had Three Drivers In Three Weekends. How Tough Is That On Crew Chief and Team?
"Well it is tough, but on one hand it is really good. We knew our race cars were good, but now we have other people bragging to the world how good they are. Joe Nemechek did a great job for us at Richmond and Jerry has done the same while we have been at Charlotte. We are all on the same page, but the biggest thing we have tried to do is not change. We make the driver adapt to us so we don't miss anything and there is a lot less confusion. It's not easy on him or us by any stretch of the imagination. Terminology is different, driver's backgrounds are different, and they each have a different feel of the car so you have to learn what he wants. You have to bridge all those things together to make it work. Plus, to do that in a two or three day period is tough."

What Is Your Assessment Of Johnny's Health?
"Johnny is the same as he ever was. He is doing good. Our plan was to take him to Pocono and I hear he is already trying to get back in the seat before that so we will just have to wait and see what happens. He's getting better everyday. We are just going to wait everything out and make sure we do the right thing."

Ince On New Pontiac's Progress:
"We and the Gibbs folks have kind of been 50-50 on what we are doing with the new 2003 Pontiac. That's gone really really well. The car has been submitted and NASCAR has a few issues on some minor things that have to be changed on it here and there. Its working through NASCAR's process right now and we will get to the point knowing more about it or having the car approved before too long.

"Heck yes we are looking forward to the new car. The Pontiac has been a great car but it is a 1996 model race car. It has seen its time and now it is time to move forward. We don't want to whine, we don't want to complain but we have been handicapped. It's been a bad year to race a Pontiac if you are in Winston Cup. But that will change next year."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Joe Nemechek , Jerry Nadeau , Johnny Benson