Valvoline Dover Preview ...
Valvoline Dover Preview
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson thinks Japanese GT champion Hideo Fukuyama faces an uphill battle this weekend when he attempts to qualify then race on the high banked, concrete oval of Dover Downs International Raceway. .
Fukuyama is making his first appearance in a Nascar Winston Cup points race this weekend driving for Travis Carter's #66 team. Fukuyama tested at Dover last month. Fukuyama, a sports car driver, with several starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has also raced in a couple NASCAR Winston West Series events, including one at the Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan and another at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
Benson said Fukuyama's appearance will only increase Nascar's awareness outside the country and hopes the Japanese driver will have a good weekend. While Fukuyama's appearance will be interesting, Benson hopes he can continue to race as well as he did at New Hampshire where he led 53 laps before his car was damaged lapping Rusty Wallace. Despite the Wallace encounter Benson finished fourth.
Benson's Thoughts On NHIS:
"We know that we had a good car the other night at Richmond and got wrecked. We had a great car Sunday at New Hampshire and got wrecked again. I have no doubt we'll bring a great car to Dover this weekend as well. We will just keep bringing great cars to the track and racing as hard as we can. Sooner or later we are going to win one of these things if we keep doing that.
"Sure, I'm disappointed about last weekend at New Hampshire but that's over and we are focusing on Dover. We finished second there before and have had some pretty good runs. No matter what happens this team isn't going to give up. New Hampshire will be great motivation for the rest of the season."
Benson On Dover's Secret to Success:
"Just look at the history. It's qualifying. For some reason a heck of a lot of winners qualified well at Dover so that tells me the race really starts on Friday when we qualify. We've got to get a good lap in and good a good starting spot. It also helps in picking at pit. If we qualify well then we get to choose a pit before the other teams. We had our race ruined there last year because another team's tire rolled onto pit road and we hit it. We don't want that to happen again. We have had good cars the last two weeks and I don't expect anything different this weekend at Dover. This could be a lot of fun."
How Do You Feel About Fukuyama Racing At Dover?
"It's going to be interesting for him. It sure is a neat opportunity for him to come to the United States and race. I'm glad Nascar and Travis Carter are giving him an opportunity. But he is about to race at a track the likes of he has never seen anywhere in Japan. I know that he has probably never seen a track with as high of banks, concrete and as fast as Dover is."
Will Nascar Become An International Racing Series?
"I don't know if Nascar will become an international sport as far as getting drivers from all over the world to race here like maybe some of the open wheel series. Most of our foreign drivers will come over from open wheel racing. We haven't had too many drivers who drove stock cars outside America. If they developed more stock car series throughout the world you might see more and more foreign born drivers."
How Hard Will Dover Be For Fukuyama?
"What he is about to do will be extremely hard. It's going to be like a first time mountain climber going up Mt. Everest. But he did test there so he has an idea of what the track is like. But it isn't going to be real easy for him. I'm sure he is used to road courses or flat tracks, but he's about to see something totally new. Even the average oval racer in the United States would be hard pressed to do well at Dover."
What Are Your Impressions of Fukuyama?
"He came over at Darlington and introduced himself and his translator. They gave me a Japanese good luck charm for my safety. That was really nice. I told him I could have used that at Daytona or Richmond earlier this year. But, he seems like a very nice man and I certainly hope he does well.
"I raced against him on the road course at Suzuka in 1996 when we went over there. I really don't remember much about him other than him and Wally (Dallenbach) wrecked. I think he was doing pretty well that day before they wrecked."
Can You Imagine Not Speaking The Same Language As Your Team?
"It would be like any of us going over to another country and trying to race. You would have to have a really good translator. Still, it would be tough. You need someone going around with you showing you where you have to be and stuff like that. But, I'm sure they have people who will be doing that for him. I'm sure at times you could feel pretty hopeless."
Will Other Drivers Help Fukuyama?
"They will help him if he comes and ask. He will be parked in the garage area next to someone who I'm sure will help him. Plus, you have to remember he has tested there. He has an idea of what the track is like. Now he has to get comfortable and get up to a competitive speed."