JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON POSTING HIS THIRD TOP FIVE FINISH IN FOUR RACES "I'm real happy, but we're having to work way too hard to stay with the Dodges on this type of racetrack. We had a so-so car. I drove my...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON POSTING HIS THIRD TOP FIVE FINISH IN FOUR RACES "I'm real happy, but we're having to work way too hard to stay with the Dodges on this type of racetrack. We had a so-so car. I drove my hind end off and still couldn't catch them. They were walking away two or three tenths a lap. We tried hard. This Valvoline Pontiac was awesome, but we still couldn't stay with them.
"Everybody on this race team is working extremely hard. They've been putting great race cars under me. The last couple of weeks we've been good, but even before that, we weren't really struggling. We just had some bad luck and were trying to figure out how to get around the bump stops and all that. James [Ince] is just doing a hell of a job."
DID THE FIRST RAIN DELAY ALLOW YOU TO GET TRACK POSITION? "It didn't give us track position. By the time everybody pitted and got done with, we moved up about five spots. We just made some adjustments and got it good. We just did what we could."
HOW ABOUT BEING THE ONLY PONTIAC TO FINISH ON THE LEAD LAP? "Well, we're obviously happy that it was us, but that's not saying a whole lot for the Pontiacs right now. We're all trying to do the best we can and we ended up as the only one on the lead lap, so I think it's about time we got some help.
"We'll do what we can to get our car better and we'll see what happens. But there is only so much that we can do. There is only so much anybody can do. This car was new in '96 and it's as good as it's going to get.
"They (NASCAR) moved the nose out to help the Dodges and that's the same thing that the Pontiac needs right now. They gave it to Chevrolet last year and it proved to be very good. They gave it to Dodge and it's already shown that it's going to be very good for them, too."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU REALLY HAD TO WORK FOR THIS TOP FIVE... "It's a situation where it's OK for us to have to work hard, but we're having to working way too hard to get what we're getting right now. There is no doubt that we're at a deficit. Maybe we haven't done a good enough job on our part to give NASCAR an option to help us out. Maybe that is something that we need to go work on. But the reality of it is, for us to have to work as hard as we're working we should be winning races. We shouldn't be running in the top five. We were the only Pontiac on the lead lap and there are good Pontiac teams in this garage. It just doesn't make sense right now. "We're happy. It was a good day for us. I would have almost liked to have seen it go green the rest of the way. But like I said, it's terrible when you've got a better race team than other people have got and you're still going to run fifth with them."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE AT AN AERODYNAMIC DISADVANTAGE RIGHT NOW? "Absolutely. We had the best Pontiac out there today and we couldn't run with those guys. We're doing the best we can with it, but it's not a lot of fun and it's not fair. It's just not fair for the teams that have run good, that were at as big a disadvantage as they were already. All I keep hearing in their (Dodge teams) interviews is, 'Yeah, it was a good [rule] change because we kept having to run all these weird setups and all these rear spring splits.' Well, I'll show them my setups right now. We've got the same problem. We have all year. We've just overcome that.
"Naturally, it's frustrating for us. But we're going to take what we've got and go do the best we can with it until they (NASCAR) decides to help us out, also."
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
IT LOOKED LIKE TWO SEPARATE RACES FOR YOU TODAY...HOW BAD WAS THE CAR BEFORE THE RAIN DELAY? "It was pretty bad. We were definitely sliding backwards. We made an adjustment, put a set of tires on it and it totally went away. We came in after the rain delay, put it back where it was, got another set of tires and it was pretty good. We made one little air adjustment there at the end of the race - like a half a pound - and then it was even better."
HOW GOOD WAS YOUR CAR AT THE END? "We were actually running pretty close to the same speed that the leaders were. That made us feel pretty good, because earlier in the race we were like a second off [the leaders] and got a lap down. When you do that, it is like two different races. I'm just glad we finished like this instead of like we were at the beginning."
JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC:
WITH THE DISADVANTAGE YOU'RE AT RIGHT NOW, IS IT LIKE TAKING A KNIFE TO A GUN FIGHT? "Yeah, sort of. These big, fast tracks it's obviously starting to show up more and more. They (NASCAR) have given Dodge everything but the checkered flag to get them to the checkered flag and they got that today. They (Dodge) were pretty classy, if you look at all of them. They all ran well.
"We're probably still off a little bit in aero. We kind of know we are, but we've got the oldest body style in the field. You can only spruce it up, dress it up and polish on it so much. You can massage on these things and get them better and better, but your gains for effort get smaller and smaller. We can run with them, but we have to be just right to run with them.
"It's a never-ending saga - the aero thing -who's got what and how much it shows up. Who knows? We sit here and think we are, but we haven't been to a wind tunnel since Atlanta in the spring. Where is everybody right now? It's anybody's guess. Certainly on the racetrack it shows up to be a little lopsided to me."
WOULD YOU WELCOME ANOTHER WIND TUNNEL TEST? "Yes, I would. I think it's time. I think we're a little overdue. I hope they do plan one in the near future just to see where everybody is at."