Martinsville: Johnny Benson preview

Benson hopes for more career bests at Martinsville. ...

Benson hopes for more career bests at Martinsville.

#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson admits Martinsville Speedway isn't one of his favorite tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit. The only problem is his Crew Chief James Ince loves the place. Ince's influence last year helped Benson to qualify fifth and in the race finish sixth -- both were a career-best.

In the race Benson overcame an early spin then stayed on the track while most drivers pitted late in the race. Benson took the lead and kept it for five laps then outraced most of the cars with newer tires to earn the sixth-place finish. He hopes something like that will happen again Sunday at the flat half-mile Virginia track.

Benson On Last Fall's Sixth Place Finish At Martinsville

"James Ince brought a car that was unlike anything we had ever brought to Martinsville before. Martinsville is the hardest track for me. I struggle there more than anywhere else we race. But the weird thing is, James loves it. So I relied on him all weekend and he came through. Sixth is pretty good. Can we do better? I hope so. I have all the confidence in the world in our Valvoline guys getting up even higher this time."

Why Don't You Like Martinsville?

"I'm not a racer who likes to beat and bang and trade paint. I grew up paying for my own cars. Anytime we wrecked a car we had to pay for it. So you learned how to pass a guy without wrecking him. I mean if it has to be done to get around someone I'll do it and be as fair as I can about it, but I'm not going out there and just knock people out of the way. Now if I were a fan then, yes, Martinsville is a track where I would buy a ticket."

Benson On Martinsville Secret To Success?

"I think you have to qualify well, you have to have great pit stops, you have to conserve your equipment and track position is everything. If you can get all those things right then you should have a good day. Oh yeah, and you have to be lucky. You have to be in the right place at the right time to miss the wrecks. I think we missed our first wreck all year last week at Texas. Up til then it seems like we'd get involved in someone else's wreck. Maybe our luck is turning."

Benson On Discipline And Patience At Martinsville:

"It's important. Very important. That's where James helps me out. He keeps me posted how the race is going, how hard we have to go or when I have to calm down, what the other guys are doing. You spend a lot of time looking at the bumper of the car in front of you and sometimes you can lose what's going on around the race track. That's why you have a crew chief."

Ince On Benson At Martinsville:

"Johnny is a lot better at Martinsville than he thinks he is. I just try to get him to stay patient, keep the fenders off the tires, and be there at the end when we can use a little bit of pit strategy to help him out. Last year that staying out at the end was something I knew I was going to do for 400 laps. I had to do the opposite of what the leaders did all day long because we had to come to the pits early in the race to work on the car. It's kind of fun to make those calls. It's really nice to know that when it gets to the end of the race and you've got to do what you've got to do, you've got a race car driver that can sit up on the wheel and wheel the thing."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Johnny Benson