Dover: Johnny Benson race report

Benson fifth at Dover Johnny Benson climbed out of his car on pit lane seconds after finishing fifth at Dover International Speedway on Sunday and summed up the general feeling of his ...

Benson fifth at Dover

Johnny Benson climbed out of his car on pit lane seconds after finishing fifth at Dover International Speedway on Sunday and summed up the general feeling of his #10 Valvoline Pontiac team for the television camera crews that had gathered.

"Its about time," laughed Benson. "Everyone was starting to wear me out about us not having a top-10 finish. Now we have that out of the way we can start looking to do even better. But I wouldn't mind if we added a few more races at Dover to our schedule."

For Benson, it is his first top-10 finish of the 2003 season and best run since winning Rockingham in October about 15 races ago. Sunday's run amid the raindrops in Delaware was even more impressive considering he started 30th of the 43 cars.

"We were pretty good today," he said. "(Crew Chief) James Ince told me before the weekend that this car would be a lot better race car than it qualifies. And he was right. We didn't qualify real well but it raced pretty good today."

Benson said the car was good but the Valvoline team's pit stops were even better.

"We came from the back of the pack because every time we pitted we gained a couple of spots getting out of the pits. Our crew has worked hard getting the pit stops right. As tight and difficult as it is to pit here we had to make up the most spots of anyone on pit road today."

Benson began Sunday's race in 30th and moved to 16th by the lap 114 mark avoiding a series of crashes on the high-speed mile oval. While the leaders stretched out the lead, Benson battled back in traffic slowly picking off spots.

By the lap 255 mark, Benson passed Robby Gordon to move into tenth.

"JB this car can do it. Keep after it and keep doing what you are doing," Ince said as the team made a series of chassis adjustments throughout the race to inch Benson closer to the car he needed to run down the leaders.

By lap 278 he moved to seventh and just a few laps later he passed Rusty Wallace to claim the sixth spot then worked his way around Matt Kennseth to fourth by lap 314.

Tony Stewart passed Benson on lap 364 and Rusty Wallace beat the Valvoline Pontiac out of the pits during a caution. But, Benson regained the spot and stayed in fifth the rest of the race that included six-lap shootout at the end that saw Ryan Newman hold off Jeff Gordon to win the race.

Benson was happy with his and the team's performance.

"We didn't have enough to go up there and battle the leaders but we were able to hold our own," he said. "You know, fifth isn't this team's goal but it's a huge step in the right direction. We should have had some better finishes this season but either something broke or we crashed so we aren't going to complain. But I hope this gets us going in the direction we need to go. We haven't lost faith in ourselves and we know we can run like this more often than not."

Benson and his teammates return to action Sunday in Pocono, Pa.

Sunday's race results and points awarded

1. (12) Ryan Newman, Dodge, 185 - 10 bonus points 2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 175 - 5 bonus points 3. (18) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 170 - 5 bonus points 4. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 165 - 5 bonus points 5. (10) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 155 6. (2) Rusty Wallace, Dodge, 155 - 5 bonus points 7. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 146 8. (32) Ricky Craven, Pontiac, 142 9. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 143 - 5 bonus points 10. (31) Robby Gordon, Chevrolet, 139 - 5 bonus points 11. (5) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 130 12. (54) Todd Bodine, Ford, 127 13. (42) Jamie McMurray, Dodge, 124 14. (99) Jeff Burton, Ford, 121 15. (97) Kurt Busch, Ford, 123 - 5 bonus points 16. (15) Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 120 - 5 bonus points 17. (21) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 112 18. (6) Mark Martin, Ford, 109 19. (01) Mike Wallace, Pontiac, 106 20. (77) Dave Blaney, Ford, 103 21. (19) Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge, 100 22. (9) Bill Elliott, Dodge, 97 23. (23) Kenny Wallace, Dodge, 94 24. (25) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 91 25. (1) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 88 26. (49) Ken Schrader, Dodge, 85 27. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 82 28. (14) Larry Foyt, Dodge, 79 29. (7) Jimmy Spencer, Dodge, 76 30. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 73 31. (74) Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 70 32. (30) Steve Park, Chevrolet, 67 33. (38) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 64 34. (43) John Andretti, Dodge, 61 35. (40) Sterling Marlin, Dodge, 58 36. (4) Mike Skinner, Pontiac, 55 37. (22) Ward Burton, Dodge, 52 38. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 54 - 5 bonus points 39. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 46 40. (41) Casey Mears, Dodge, 43 41. (0) Jack Sprague, Pontiac, 40 42. (11) Brett Bodine, Ford, 37 43. (45) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 34

Updated Winston Cup driver standings

1. Matt Kenseth, 1945 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 1774 3. Jeff Gordon, 1758 4. Bobby Labonte, 1716 5. Kurt Busch, 1698 6. Michael Waltrip, 1631 7. Jimmie Johnson, 1606 8. Rusty Wallace, 1556 9. Kevin Harvick, 1539 10. Robby Gordon, 1473 11. Sterling Marlin, 1463 12. Ricky Craven, 1445 13. Joe Nemechek, 1432 14. Jeff Burton, 1432 15. Mark Martin, 1427 16. Tony Stewart, 1395 17. Terry Labonte, 1377 18. Ryan Newman, 1376 19. Dave Blaney, 1333 20. Elliott Sadler, 1325 21. Jamie McMurray, 1305 22. Greg Biffle, 1297 23. Bill Elliott, 1295 24. Dale Jarrett, 1278 25. Ward Burton, 1277 26. Ricky Rudd, 1275 27. Johnny Benson, 1274 28. Kenny Wallace, 1187 29. Jimmy Spencer, 1183 30. Jeff Green, 1129 31. Steve Park, 1077 32. Todd Bodine, 1074 33. Jeremy Mayfield, 1071 34. John Andretti, 1043 35. Ken Schrader, 1037 36. Mike Skinner, 943 37. Kyle Petty, 923 38. Jack Sprague, 922 39. Casey Mears, 921 40. Tony Raines, 904 41. Jerry Nadeau, 844 42. Larry Foyt, 540 43. Mike Wallace, 387 44. Brett Bodine, 308 45. Derrike Cope, 215 46. Christian Fittipaldi, 107 47. Hermie Sadler, 68 48. Jason Keller, 67 49. Hideo Fukuyama, 64 50. Kevin Lepage, 0

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , John Andretti , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Steve Park , Jason Keller , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Jeff Green , Kevin Lepage , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Jerry Nadeau , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Christian Fittipaldi , Johnny Benson , Larry Foyt , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson , Ricky Craven , Jack Sprague , Jamie McMurray , Hermie Sadler , Hideo Fukuyama , Elliott Sadler , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin