Valvoline Richmond Preview ...
Valvoline Richmond Preview
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson describes Richmond International Raceway as "almost perfect" when grading the NASCAR Winston Cup track. Drivers like the competition, fans like the short track action and great viewing, and the crews appreciate the two-day schedule. Benson said it's even easy to do hospitality appearances with the layout of the track.
Benson likes Richmond so much he is going to race twice this weekend. On Friday night he'll be in the #31 Whelen Monte Carlo for the Busch Series race. Benson earned the Busch Series title for Bace Motorsports in 1995. Benson and Crew Chief James Ince plan to use the Friday night Busch Series race to get a jump his competition in Saturday night's Winston Cup race.
While the results haven't been spectacular, Benson's Valvoline Pontiac has come to life in recent weeks. A 15th-place finish at California Sunday would have easily been a top ten or top five finish if he hadn't lost a lap in the early part of the race. Benson has been a victim of another driver's accident in at least six of the season's 10 races and untimely caution flags in three others.
Benson has posted three consecutive top-10 finishes at Richmond.
Describe Your Season So Far?
"I know everyone says this but we haven't been too bad this year. A few breaks here and there and we'd be sitting really good. Like yesterday in California we weren't good as soon as the race started. So we came in and worked on the car. That meant we had to go to the back of the pack. Wouldn't you know that would be the time we go green for 120 laps and Kurt Busch laps all but about a dozen cars. We were very good but he was on fire and we lost our lap. For the rest of the race we could run with anyone but making up a lap there is so tough. I stayed in front of the leaders there at the end for a good long while. If we hadn't lost that lap we could have had a top five finish.
"We have been pretty good this season when we weren't in other people's wrecks. That's just a case of being at the wrong spot at the wrong time. I think as the season goes on we will climb up there in the points. James has done a tremendous job keeping the morale up in our shop and the crew has put in some long hours. I think we have tested about every other week for the last two months. It will pay off soon."
What Do You Like About The Richmond Weekend?
"On the whole, it is pretty dang good place to have a race. It's a good track for us to race on. It's a good track for the fans to watch. It's a good track for even the people who do hospitality. Our crew guys like the two-day shows plus Richmond is just a great city to visit and hang out. I've said before we'd run 38 races at Richmond if they let us. It's about perfect."
Benson On What He Will Look For Friday And Apply Saturday
"You are looking at track conditions and trying to learn what type of changes to expect from the track. It will start extremely slick. Every year they tell us they don't seal Richmond but they do. I hear this year they sealed it twice this year. It will be interesting to see how fast the sealer is wearing off and where it is wearing off. Without having any late practice on Saturday like we had in the past it's going to make what we learn in the Busch race Friday even more critical."
What Is Your Strategy At Richmond?
Richmond is a track where you do a lot of slipping and sliding. You want to get out front, stay up with the lead cars and at the end hopefully you will be in a position to win. We have always raced pretty well up there. We have great equipment and it's a type of track I like. It's nice and smooth and it's a track where finesse is the key. Those are the kind of tracks where I like to race. Along with everyone else also."
Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America:
Benson is racing this week for the Anchorage, Inc., Anchorage, AK Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America. Each week Valvoline donates money to the national Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America organization as well as an individual local chapter based on Benson's on-track performance. Valvoline matches Benson's performance by donating $5,000 for a win, $2,500 for a pole, $1,000 for a top ten 10 finish, $500 for a top 20 finish and $20 for each lap led. The 3-year program has raised over $750,000.