Fontana: Johnny Benson preview

Benson California Preview ...

Benson California Preview

#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson knows his trip to California this week is going to be much more fun than his trip down the pit lane after the big wreck at Talladega last Sunday. Benson's Valvoline Pontiac survived the wreck but burst into flames on pit road. After a little bit of difficulty getting through the window with his HANS, rescue workers and crewmembers from other teams pulled Benson from the flaming car.

Benson is adamant HANS has improved driver safety and won't waver in his plan to wear a HANS every time he gets behind the wheel of any racecar. But, Benson strongly agrees with NASCAR in its work to make the windows bigger to aid drivers in exiting their cars during emergencies.

Before Benson gets to race in Fontana he's making a stop at the Jim Henson Company in Los Angeles on Thursday where he will take part in unveiling the Fozzy Bear paint scheme Benson will race in Joliet, Ill on July 14. The paint scheme celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Muppet show.

Benson On Sunday's Accident:

"It's great that we have these safety devices. And I think you saw Sunday just how good they work in the wreck protecting drivers. In my case with the fire it was very difficult to get out of the car as quickly as I needed to get out. Having the safety device is a huge plus. Don't get me wrong, I'm their biggest supporter and will keep wearing my device. But I sure support NASCAR's plan to make these windows more user friendly for us. I don't know if making the window bigger is the only answer. We just need to make them easier to get out of as well.

"I'm lucky what happened to me happened on pit road. There was some quick thinking on the part of the safety workers and guys from other crews. They helped me a bunch. I'm fine but that was scary."

Benson On Fozzy Bear Paint Scheme:

"Do you realize about half the field Sunday weren't born when the Muppet Show started 25 years ago? That's unbelievable. Fozzy is pretty cool. My kids think he is neat. If we win with him then he's going to be all over our house and a permanent member of our Valvoline team. We had James Dean paint scheme last August at Indianapolis now at Chicago we will have Fozzy. We are trying to keep fans of all ages happy."

Benson On California Strategy:

"I always look forward going out there. We think we can run very well. We won a Winston West race there in 2000. As for Winston Cup we'd love to win at Fontana. That would be a cool place to get a first victory. Any place would, but California with all its glitz and glamour would probably treat a first time winner pretty good.

"The California race seems to never have a lot of cautions. I guess it is kind of like Michigan. The fans should see about the same kind of race. I'm sure fuel mileage will be important. At places like California and Michigan you start thinking about fuel mileage during happy hour on Saturday. You have to make sure the car is good horsepower wise, but you also have to have fuel mileage. One without the other doesn't do you much good during the race. I don' t think a driver will drive any differently. You might try to save fuel during the race. If you are racing with a pack you don't want to be the front guy. If you are behind in the draft you can save a little fuel. But fuel mileage all depends on when the cautions fall as well. You go into the race thinking fuel mileage and all of a sudden a yellow comes out late in the race and wipes out that strategy."

Key To Fontana:

"You have to have a fast car and play the cautions right."

Benson On California Strategy:

"Besides being about 5,000 miles difference. The banking is a lot less at California. Plus, California isn't a two groove race track just yet which I think is because of the banking."

Do You Enjoy Racing At Fontana: "You have to like the fans out there. I'm not looking forward to the plane ride out there but it will good to race in front of some new faces. They want to see racing on the West Coast and they don't get to see too much of us so that's always kind of neat about going to Fontana.

Race Information:

THE RACE: NAPA Auto Parts 500 Winston Cup Race #10 of 36 for the 2002 Winston Cup season

Race: Sunday, April 28, 2002 in Fontana, CA

NOTE: California Speedway is located in the Pacific Time Zone, all times listed here are in Eastern Time Zone (3 hours ahead)

TV: Fox - 3:00pm/et

Race re-air: Speed Channel on Wednesday, May 1st, 8:00pm/et

Pre-Race Show: 2:30pm/et, with hosts Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond


Announcers: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds

Pit Reporters: Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum and Steve Byrnes

Hollywood Hotel: Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond

Posted Awards/Purse: $4,419,924 (First Place - $162,100) (was $3,965,703 in 2001)


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Johnny Benson