Pontiac teams look to defend "Home Turf" in Pontiac Excitement 400. DETROIT, Mich., April 30, 2002 - Winning a race of any kind is a big deal to a race team. But winning a race named after one of your backers is huge, and that is just what five...
Pontiac teams look to defend "Home Turf" in Pontiac Excitement 400.
DETROIT, Mich., April 30, 2002 - Winning a race of any kind is a big deal to a race team. But winning a race named after one of your backers is huge, and that is just what five Pontiac teams will set out to do Saturday at Richmond International Raceway, as it plays host to the Pontiac Excitement 400.
Pontiac wheelman Johnny Benson passed on a pre-event test session, but is slated to run the Busch Series event on Friday night with the hope that he will acquire enough of an edge to get his Grand Prix to victory lane the following night.
Johnny Benson, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix:
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN BOTH RACES THIS WEEKEND?
"I'm looking forward to it. Going back to the Busch Series should be a lot of fun. There are a lot of good people over there and I've had a lot of success in the Busch Series. It's going to be fun and competitive, but one of the reasons we are going over there is to see what we can learn and translate to our Pontiac. It would be great if we can go there and win, and in the process, learn a lot for our Pontiac program."
DO THE TWO CARS DRIVE DIFFERENTLY AT RICHMOND?
"You drive Richmond the same in both cars. The Busch car will probably turn a little better because of the shorter wheelbase. Outside that, as a rule, you drive the cars the same. The groove is the same. I've raced there in the Busch Series and watched a lot of races there, and it's pretty much the same.
"From the driver perspective you don't change your strategy that much, either. It's still a long race. Yes, it's half the distance but that's still a long race. Tire wear is an issue and you still have to be smooth during the race. I think from watching the Busch Series on television lately, you also need to keep your car going in the right direction and avoid all the wrecks."
James Ince, Crew Chief, No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prix:
HOW IMPORTANT WILL YOUR NEW BUSCH EFFORT BE WITH REGARD TO HELPING YOUR WINSTON CUP EFFORT?
"It's a really important thing. If we can win on Friday or Saturday, it's just as good as winning in the Cup car. If we do well with the Busch car, it will help us get this Pontiac better. It can do a lot of things. It will help me get more confidence as a crew chief, it can help Johnny's confidence as a driver and it gets the guys some extra practice doing their pit stops.
"Running the Busch race this week at Richmond also basically saved us a test, which we're about out of anyway. Our test for Richmond, in theory, will be Thursday when we start practicing that Busch car.
"Our goal with the Busch program is to go sit on every pole and win 10 races (out of 10 races). That's what we want to go do. It may take us three or four races to get that going. But, Johnny was the Busch champion in 1995 and that was no accident. The Busch Series is a tough series. By no means do we think that we can just run over there and spank everybody. But, we believe that if we go run well over there it will definitely get our mental focus a lot better."