Richmond II: Johnny Benson preview

This weekend's unveiling of the SAFER barrier at the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway might be a prelude to one day having all NASCAR Winston Cup tracks equipped with the energy-absorbing walls. Only Indianapolis uses the system...

This weekend's unveiling of the SAFER barrier at the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway might be a prelude to one day having all NASCAR Winston Cup tracks equipped with the energy-absorbing walls. Only Indianapolis uses the system now and New Hampshire will be equipped at the October race. The SAFER barrier is four steel tubes welded in about 20-foot sections and bolted to the concrete walls. Between the steel and the concrete, pads of hard, pink foam are placed about 10 feet apart, allowing the surface to bend and thereby reduce force.

Benson wrecked in a Busch Series race at Richmond in 2002. He suffered a broken rib in his back on the right side and two cracked ribs on front right side of his body. He missed three races. Benson's teammate Jerry Nadeau was injured at Richmond in May and has yet to return to racing.

Benson's Crew Chief James Ince, of Springfield, Mo., is celebrating a championship for his dirt late model car building company. Justin Wells of Crane Mo. won the IMCA Dirt Late Model championship last week in a chassis built by James Ince Motorsports.

Benson On SAFER Barrier:

"The SAFER barrier is good news. I know NASCAR has been working on it pretty hard and I'm glad they are far enough along to where they think it's time to install it at Richmond. Obviously, we all hope it works and makes the sport a little bit safer. Richmond is a great track and if this barrier works like I think it will everyone in our sport will benefit. We hit the wall at the short tracks just as hard as we hit the wall at the bigger tracks. I hope we have the SAFER barrier at all of our tracks soon."

Benson On Richmond:

"I have always liked going to Richmond. It's a great race track. It has two grooves and you can race all over the place. I've said before and I still say Richmond might be the best show we put on for everyone all season. The place is a lot of fun for the drivers, the fans like it because its close short-track racing where you can pass, and I think most of our crew guys like the race because they don't have to fix a lot of wrecked race cars like we do at Bristol."

Predictions for Weekend:

"Last Spring we ran OK but not like we wanted to. I hope it will be better Saturday night. We are getting better and better of late. We weren't showing all that we had a Darlington and got caught up in somebody else's wreck. I think we had top-15s in the last three ovals. We'd like to do better than that on Saturday night."

Ince On Building the IMCA Dirt Late Model Champion:

"The company is about four or five years old in Rogersville, Missouri. Until last year we were just a parts and components business, but I decided we wanted to design and build our own dirt late model chassis. Since this was a startup operation we only sold about eight cars and one of them was to Justin Wells who was running in the IMCA late model division. He was a young kid that wasn't getting a lot of help and we saw a lot of potential. Turns out he goes out and wins the championship and I think combined with the other drivers our cars had about 20 victories. That's pretty rewarding. We are pretty excited. This is an all Missouri operation. The short tracks are what I grew up on and I'm proud of that background. We have our own dirt team. My brother drives for me and I'm sure some day when I'm not in Winston Cup it's where I plan to go back to and enjoy life. Racing is what I do and it's what I love."

On Fire

Monday through Saturday Jimmy Watts is a captain with the Charlotte Fire Department. On Sunday he goes over pit wall just inches away from 43 swarming cars to gas Johnny Benson's #10 Valvoline Pontiac. Watts helped pull Benson out of his car at Talladega last year and is a good authority on firefighting techniques in racing.

THE RACE:

Chevy Rock and Roll 400
Race: Saturday, September 6, 2003 in Richmond, VA
TV: TNT - 7:40pm/et
Pre-Race Show: TNT - 7:00pm/et - hosted by Bill Weber

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jerry Nadeau , Johnny Benson