It didn't take Johnny Benson and Crew Chief James Ince long to decide which ...
It didn't take Johnny Benson and Crew Chief James Ince long to decide which #10 Lycos Pontiac to take to Talladega this weekend. Tyler Jet Motorsports car #18 will make its second appearance of the 2000 season. It led 38 laps at the Daytona 500 in February before several Fords drafted past Benson three laps before the checkered flag. While Dale Jarrett's winning car is spending the year on display at Daytona USA, Benson gets to bring the car that nearly won the race to Talladega for this weekend's second restrictor plate race of the 2000 season. NASCAR's new rules enlarging the restrictor plate and altering the shocks and springs used during the race are sure to be discussed throughout the weekend.
Johnny Benson On His Daytona Car Running This Weekend:
"Well if there is a good thing about not winning Daytona it's that we get to bring that Daytona car to Talladega. OK, so I think we would have gladly made alternate plans this weekend if we had won Daytona. But you always have to look on the bright side of things. We have the car we want for this weekend. And, I don't have a lot of sympathy for Dale (Jarrett) this weekend. We'd gladly trade a car for a trophy at Daytona or any race."
Do Drivers Get Nervous At Talladega?
"Talladega is different than Daytona in that you run three wide at Talladega for 25 laps instead of two wide like we do at Daytona. It gets pretty tense running three wide and I don't know what the word is for running four wide. Am I scared? No. You don't have time to be scared. And really, if you wreck there you wreck so fast that by the time you realize what just happened the wreck is over so you don't get too scared that way either."
Differences Between Talladega and Daytona:
"At Daytona you have to have good horsepower, you have to have a good body on the car and you have got to be able to hold the car on the bottom of the track for a long period of time. At Daytona we had a great handling car. At Talladega it's different. Handling isn't as important. It's mostly engine and body. Talladega isn't as much a handling track as Daytona is. It's just being in the right place at the right time to miss the wreck as well as take the checkered flag."
"All of our focus is on Sunday. Qualifying doesn't mean a thing at Talladega. You can go from last to first and from first to last in just a few laps. I have said this before and it still applies, all you want to do at Talladega is hope you miss the big wreck and hope you are with the lead pack a lap or two before the checkered flag flies. Everything else there is just biding time."
New Shock, Spring & Restrictor Plate Rules For Sunday:
"This is almost like a brand new race track to us because this restrictor plate race has different rules than we had at Daytona. We are going with a larger restrictor plate to slow the cars and they are going to let us do more of what we want with the front springs, shocks and bump stops. It's a whole new ballgame. I'm not sure what the effect will be. The restrictor plate is probably going to bunch us up even more and the new spring and shock rules should make the handling a little better. I think the drivers are going to be just like the fans and withhold judgment until after the race and then you will probably find the guys that finished well will like the rules and the guys at the back of the pack didn't like the new rules."
Will Daytona Success Help With Drafting Partners?
"I always laugh whenever people start talking about drafting partners at Talladega. Nobody has a real drafting partner. The only partners you really have are the guy in front of you and the guy behind you and that changes throughout the race. I don't care what anyone promises you before the race or on the team radios during the race. If they think they can help themselves they are going to forget about any agreement just as fast as they can."
Crew Chief James Ince On Talladega:
"Man I liked it a lot better when people were discounting us. This is pressure. Everyone will be watching us in Talladega. Actually, that is what we are in this business for. We aren't going to change a thing. We will prepare this week just like we did for Daytona. Preparation is where most of these races are won and lost. As a crew chief most of your work is done by the time the race starts at Talladega. Once that checkered flag falls all of my duties are pretty well set. You will probably pit with the leaders and you might have to decide whether we should do two or four tire stops. Other than that, crew chiefs are just like fans at Talladega. We are going to watch and hope the best for our driver. The new rules should make the race interesting to say the least. But it is pretty hard to put on a boring show at Talladega. I'm like Johnny, I'll let you know what I think of the new rules after the race."
THE RACE: Diehard 500 Winston Cup Race #9 of 34 for the 2000 season
a.. Race: Sunday, April 16, 2000 in Talladega, AL
b.. Talladega is in Central time, all times listed here are Eastern Time(1 hour ahead)
c.. TV: ABC 1:00pm/et
d.. 1999 Race Winner: Dale Earnhardt
e.. Race Speed Record: Mark Martin, 5/1997, 188.354mph
f.. Track/Race Length: 2.66 mile tri-oval, 188 laps, 500.08 miles
g.. Practice: Friday, Apr 14th 12:15-2:15pm/et; Saturday, Apr 15th, 9:15-10:30am/et
h.. Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, Apr 15th, 2:00-3:00pm/et (before the BGN race), TV-ESPN2 6:00-7:00pm/et same day tape
i.. Qualifying Draw: Friday, Apr 14th at 11:30am/et
j.. First Round Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-25, Friday, Apr 14th at 4:00pm/et, TV-ESPN2 and live via MRN radio/internet(link below)
k.. Second-Round Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 26th on back, Saturday, Apr 15th at 11:45am/et
l.. Track/Race Qualifying Record: Bill Elliott, 4/1987, 212.809mph(un-restricted)
m.. Last Year's Pole Sitter: Ken Schrader, 197.765mph
n.. Pit Road Speed: 55mph