Five career top-ten finishes at Richmond International Raceway has made the .75-mile D-shaped oval one of Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson's favorite Nascar Winston Cup tracks. But he'd like to forget what happened at the favored track last...
Five career top-ten finishes at Richmond International Raceway has made the .75-mile D-shaped oval one of Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson's favorite Nascar Winston Cup tracks. But he'd like to forget what happened at the favored track last season.
A year ago Benson posted the fastest speed in Busch practice on Thursday then turned in the fastest laps in the final two Winston Cup practice sessions Friday evening. Minutes later, in his inaugural Busch race of the season, another car slammed Benson from behind sending him for a two-night stay in a local hospital with one broken and two cracked ribs. He watched Sunday's race from the pit box and missed the Charlotte and Dover races.
Benson's return to Richmond in September ended when another car wrecked the Valvoline Pontiac on the front stretch leaving him with a 35th-place finish. Before last season Benson had three consecutive top-10 finishes and has been a threat for victory several times at Richmond. He plans on resuming the streak this weekend.
Benson On This Year And Last Year:
"I'm looking forward to this weekend because we always seem to run well there. And, we are due for a break or two there or for that matter anywhere. The guys on our team brought the Rally Monkey from the California Angels game last Sunday and that didn't work. So we will try anything now. Maybe Richmond will be the place we turn it around. In the last four races we've got caught up in other peoples wrecks at Talladega and California and blew up at Texas. So we could use good luck and a good run.
"You don't think much about last year's wrecks. If you were going to a track where you screwed up and had a bad wreck then you might think twice about going back. That's just human nature. But when somebody else does something to you at a track then you really don't think about the track.
"I look back at that weekend and what I remember most is that we had a great race car on the Cup side and on the Busch side. That's what I think about. It was just unfortunate we had the accident and I couldn't race on Sunday. There isn't much you can do about it so you don't worry about it."
Benson on Watching The Richmond Cup Race From The Pit Box:
"No, that wasn't a lot of fun. I mean I wasn't feeling the greatest and it's hard to watch someone else in your car. Joe Nemechek did a great job. But if you are a racer it hurts to watch someone in your car. I tried to sit on the box and help James. It was interesting from the standpoint that I got a new view of what goes on during the race. Those guys in the pits aren't sitting there eating ice cream while we race on the track. There's a lot of strategy going on. It was almost like a game trying to outthink the other teams, but it wasn't as much fun as racing."
Secret To Richmond Success:
"The secret to success at Richmond is just like the secret to success everywhere else. To go fast you have to have a combination of good handling and good horsepower. But, getting through the middle of the corners and getting through turn four faster than anyone else is what it takes to be up front at Richmond. Watch during the race. The guy who is hauling the mail off turn four is the guy who is probably going to win the race.
"I feel as comfortable getting around Richmond as any track on the circuit. For myself, I like the flatter racetracks. The tracks that fit my style are the ones where you can let the car slip and slide around the corners and you just have to try to keep the car underneath you. Richmond is just that type of track.
"I think the appeal of Richmond is that it is a short track and we don't have as many of those tracks in the series as we once did. It's also because we are racing at night. There is so much more enthusiasm at night compared to any day race. And most importantly I think it seems like whenever we race at Richmond it is a decent race. For drivers it's what we all grew up doing. Also for a driver there is less glare and better temperatures at night and don't forget all of us get Sunday off if we run Saturday night races."