JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON THE SATISFACTION OF COMING TO THE FIRST 'UNRESTRICTED' RACE OF THE YEAR AND QUALIFYING SO WELL "Unrestricted? Have you been through tech? "Obviously, going to Daytona is a huge deal. It's...
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON THE SATISFACTION OF COMING TO THE FIRST 'UNRESTRICTED' RACE OF THE YEAR AND QUALIFYING SO WELL "Unrestricted? Have you been through tech?
"Obviously, going to Daytona is a huge deal. It's our first race and it's a huge race. But, a lot of people like to come here because it feels like your fate is not in a lot of other people's hands. This is a great racetrack. You can race. There are two grooves down in one and two. There are three grooves down in three and four. It's a great place to race. The fans see really good action around the racetrack, and there is some strategy that goes into this race differently than what we do at the Daytona 500."
HAVING WON HERE IN NOVEMBER, IS THERE ANY CHANGE IN YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL HERE OR YOUR MENTAL APPROACH TO THE RACE? "There isn't a lot that's different. Obviously, we're glad we won. But, as we're coming back here for the first time since then, the rules are different. We've got a new Grand Prix, got a new race car and a lot of different things.
"It's a place that we enjoy coming to, and that is probably the most important thing in terms of how we approach it and why we won here."
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEW TEMPLATE SYSTEM AND INSPECTION PROCESS HAS DONE FOR COMPETITION? "It's pretty obvious, going through tech now is a little tougher. They're being picky about a lot of things, which is good. If they're going to have rules then they need to enforce them and keep it going in that direction. The bad part is that the first couple races they make you come a day early and that's bad because you've got all the guys here at the racetrack and out of the race shop, just trying to get through tech. At Daytona, a lot of cars had issues and we saw that here, too.
"It's just part of the deal, but hopefully that will change as time goes on."
IS THAT TIME WELL-SPENT BY NASCAR AT THIS POINT OF THE YEAR - TO REALLY GO THROUGH THE CARS WITH A 'FINE-TOOTH COMB?' "If they keep the enforcement up, I think it will be. But, if they get relaxed on it, then I don't know if it will be any different. I think they're trying to tell people that this is the way it's going to be and this is how you need to come to the racetrack - which is a good thing if they keep doing it. But, the tough part is that sometimes, some of the dimensions they've got have such small tolerances that it takes twice the amount of time to build a car just trying to get the bodies on them now. That part is difficult for the shop."
WHEN DOES THE PRESSURE OF POINTS ENTER INTO YOUR SEASON? "It starts during the winter. Every race is important. You can go through the year and say, 'If we'd have done this at this race, done that at that race, that would have helped us in the points.'
"Every race is important. We saw last year that the guy coming out of Daytona in last won the championship. But, you don't want to view it that way because you can't afford to spot everybody that many points on any given day."