Pontiac Racing - Winning team press conference Part 2 of 2 BENSON: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU THAT YOUR FIRST VICTORY CAME AT 'THE ROCK?' "I'm glad it was. We're happy with that. Obviously, I'd have taken it anywhere. It doesn't matter where...
Pontiac Racing - Winning team press conference
Part 2 of 2
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU THAT YOUR FIRST VICTORY CAME AT 'THE ROCK?' "I'm glad it was. We're happy with that. Obviously, I'd have taken it anywhere. It doesn't matter where it was at. But, the one thing that was neat about it is that this is where I won the Busch championship in '95, so I think that that part is pretty cool. Although, like I say, I would have taken any win before that up until this point. I don't care where it is. But, it's kind of neat to have it here - the same place that we won the championship for the Busch."
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD IT WON AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS? "You see that guy that hangs out on that box (the flagstand) right there? When he was waving that '76' sign with the checkers on it - that's when I figured we were going to win it because it was tough. I knew Mark was coming. I knew he was there and I knew he was going to race hard. All it took was - man, I could have run out of gas, I could have cut a tire, I could have spun, I could have done a number of different things that possibly could have happened. But, we were fortunate that that didn't happen. Mark was right there putting a lot of pressure on us and I felt good when I came across that line seeing that checkered flag and not hearing the spotter up top going, 'He is inside,' so it's good that I didn't hear that."
HOW MUCH HELP DID YOU GET FROM YOUR SPOTTER? "Brian Dantine is our spotter and he does a tremendous job. He helps me out with traffic, but then when we get to the racing part he doesn't say a whole lot. He knows what I like to hear and not to hear. He is going to just give you the information that I need. At times he doesn't feel I need it, he is not going to say anything. We were both running the bottom in one and two. I was running the high part of three and four and Mark was running the bottom. He never mentioned it. I knew that that was going on, but he knew that I knew. But, that's where I needed to run. I couldn't run the bottom. But, I knew it was awfully tough on Mark's tires, running the bottom, because I just had seen it during the day. I was perfectly happy with him, if he wanted to get underneath me. But, I wouldn't have been happy if he had gotten on the outside of me, just because of running off the corner. When you're the guy on the outside, he is the one that has got to clear you and you're going to do everything you can. You get a good run off these corners up top. I wasn't really worried about running the top through one and two, but I was worried about running the bottom through three and four, so I took my chances running the bottom through one and two and the top through three and four."
EVERYONE SAYS YOU'RE A NICE GUY - IS THAT THE WAY IT IS? "That's just the way I am. If I had been a bad guy and won 20 races, I'd be happy with that. But, I'm not that guy. I just am what I am and that's just the way it is. I'm fairly easy to get along with - not all the times - but, the majority of the time - at least we hope to think so. The biggest thing is having a lot of great guys around you. That's what we have with the '10' car is a bunch of great guys that want to race, want to win races. There are only three guys on our team that have won a Cup race and that's what makes it feel so good to win this race today - for the guys. We won this thing together. It wasn't me. It wasn't James Ince. It was a whole group. James is the one that orchestrates it all, but it's a whole group of good guys and I'm just glad that we finally won one."
HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO KEEP YOUR PROGRAM TOGETHER WHILE YOU WORK ON 2003? "It's a situation that goes back to being fortunate enough to surround ourselves with great people.
"Not only do we have help from our race team, we have help from the MB2 team with the '36' guys and we work extremely hard. It' just a situation that one of the things I leaned a long time ago was that you surround yourself with good people, let them do their job and they'll help you out. We've got a whole group of guys down there that you can depend on. You can hand them something to go do and they go handle it for you, and in the meantime, I can go work on 2003 cars. By any means, we're not going to let up on this year. We still want to achieve all we can this year. But, we also have every intention of winning the Daytona 500 next year. It just goes back to having a great group of guys around you."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH JOHNNY BEING A 'NICE GUY?' "In 2000 when Johnny came and drove our race cars and we decided that this is what we wanted to go do, I gave him a choice then. I told him, at the end of the day, he could decide who he wanted to fight at the gas pumps - me or them. We've kind of operated that way ever since. Martinsville is a good example of --- yeah, I was upset because I wanted to win bad - no worse than Johnny Benson wanted to win. That's just not the way Johnny is. When he says that he is what he is, what you see is what you get. There is no doubt about it. But, in the same token, two weeks later the guy won the race the way he wanted to win the race. You've got to balance your emotions in this sport. This is a tough business. We've been through a lot this year. We've been through a lot together the last couple years. When it comes down to the end of the race, that is a whole lot easier. The hardest part for me was probably sitting in hospital rooms this year, more so than actually coming to the racetrack because we're more than just a driver and crew chief combination. We're friends and everybody on this race team worries about each other. It's a balancing act. It goes back to, I believe in him 100 percent. I knew he'd make it up to me one way or the other. We've still got two races left this year."
WITH ALL THE ADVERSITY THIS TEAM HAS FACED OVER THE PAST THREE SEASONS, YOU NEVER FOLDED - IS THIS A STUBBORN GROUP? "We did have one point in time where we did have stuff loaded in the car and we weren't going to the racetrack. It was fortunate that we got a phone call not too long after that that MB2 was thinking about buying the team and 'do what you've got to do to get to the racetrack.' You can call it stubborn or whatever you want to call it. Yeah, we're probably stubborn and we may be stupid. At other times, you look at this race team and know that they're passionate at what they do. We wanted to do that as a group. A lot of times they (the crew members) asked us about that - 'what are you guys doing, where are you going, are you closing the doors, are you guys leaving? I said, 'No, we're not leaving.' They said, 'As long as you're not leaving, then we're staying here.' They said, 'They're going to have to throw us out of that building.'
"It was close. We had it to that point in time. But, that's good. That makes a driver confident that you've got that good a group of guys behind you. That makes James feel good that he's got a good group of guys underneath him, so we can all try to get the job done."
DID YOU EVER WONDER IF YOU WOULD EVER WIN? "No, I haven't doubted that, but I haven't doubted these guys either. If it ever got to that point in time, I'll tell you what - I'm going to go find something else to do and let somebody sit in that car that can get it done because this group of guys deserve to go win and to win races. I feel I can do that. I hate that it took as long as it did, but I finally getting you guys off my hinds about asking about when we're going to win one. Now, you aren't going to all start with, 'When are you going to win a second one? When are you going to win again?' We'll do the best we can to win one and we're going to win it in the same fashion we did today."
WAS IT SPECIAL TO BEAT ROUSH RACING TODAY? "I think it means a whole lot for us on a personal basis to be able to go do that. I know on a company basis it means a whole lot that the Valvoline Pontiac today beat the guy that used to drive their race car. That means a whole lot to us that Valvoline had the faith to put us in a situation to be able to go do that. But, I'll also tell you about the third guy I saw in victory lane today was Jack Roush and there is no doubt that he is a class act. If it wasn't for him, I know personally that I wouldn't be a Winston Cup crew chief. He took a chance once upon a time and made a 24-year old kid a crew chief and eight years later - finally - I've won a Winston Cup race. There is some satisfaction there, but it is more like beating your brother for me than it is anybody else. It doesn't matter who is on the racetrack. We want to beat them. If my mother was out there, we'd put her in the fence to win and it's that simple. But, there is definitely some satisfaction there."
ON ROUSH "Jack gave me an opportunity to go race their race cars and it's a great organization. I'm glad that that happened. Unfortunately, it wasn't the right thing for me and him. We struggled, we had some problems and at that point in time, I think he knew what was best. I knew what was best. I'm the one that made the move, not Jack Roush. He didn't throw us out the door. At that point in time, I felt like they were doing everything they can for all their race teams, but I didn't think it was going to work for us. That's when I chose to go do something different. It's always funny because - then, to take James, who was a crew chief up there, too, and then put this deal together. It's very gratifying that we won a race. Like I say, Jack does a tremendous amount for NASCAR racing and other racing around the country, so it was neat to be a part of it. But, it's also very neat to be able to beat their guys."