Johnny Benson's ...
Johnny Benson's #10 Valvoline Pontiac team as well as the rest of the teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series receive a rare off-weekend this weekend, but before the Valvoline team can enjoy it they plan to make a road trip to Texas for an important test session with a new car.
The team has kept the midnight oil burning since the Atlanta race where Benson finished 27th. That's also where Crew Chief James Ince said he decided major changes were needed with the team's aero-package in order to compete with a Pontiac in 2002.
The team built a new car in three days; wind tunnel tested it in Canada last Thursday and Friday, and now plan to take it to Texas this Tuesday and Wednesday to test. Ince hopes to race the new car at the April 7 race in Fort Worth.
Benson is 30th in points in 2002 because of his involvement accidents not of his own making in four of the season's six races. Untimely caution flags have caught the Valvoline team in the other two races.
Crew Chief James Ince:
"We've been a little bit unhappy with how we have run this year. The aero things have changed this year so we went home after Atlanta and at noon that Monday started building a new race car we plan to race at Texas. They literally worked 24 hours a day for three days getting that car built and it was in the body shop by Thursday night. Building something that fast is a heck of an accomplishment. The car was in the wind tunnel this week but we didn't like what we saw there so they spent Saturday and Sunday cutting it. So once we get done making the correction we plan to go test Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I'm real proud of our guys. The lights have not shut off on our side of the building for a month. We worked 24 hours a day. It's not like we are in a rut like now. We are actually running OK it's just that we aren't where we want to be. We are digging in trying to get better. We want to win races, not run 10th. It's a real testament to the guys on our race team that they are willing to work double shifts to get done what we need to get done.
"This weekend we are going to close the building for three days. The body shop will work some extra because we have a special paint scheme we are going to race in Texas. They will paint that car, we will go to the Texas test, and then we are going to enjoy our off weekend.
"You have to be real careful. There is a fine line between everybody wanting to do a whole lot and people overdoing it. Its my job to say, "Okay, even though you guys want to be here it's time to go home.' It's going to hurt us down the road if you work too much. This coming weekend we are going to take a three-day weekend.
"You have to work real hard to keep people motivated. Our entire race team is a bunch of overachievers. I have to be the one that keeps slowing them down. I don't have to talk them into anything other than getting them to slow down and take some rest. These guys will work themselves until they fall but we still have to go to other races the next week."
"Of course this season has been frustrating. It seems like whenever there is an accident on the track we get caught up in it. Plus, we haven't run like we know we are capable of running. When you combine those two factors you can see why we are disappointed with the season. But we aren't going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. James and the guys have built a new car for Texas and we are going to run good. If we don't then we will go back to the drawing board and come up with another plan. We aren't going to give up on this thing. Things change pretty fast in this sport and if we get a good run down in Texas like we did last year (3rd-place finish) we can turn this around."