Rockingham: Pontiac Racing - Johnny Benson interview

* Johnny Benson's last four runs at North Carolina Speedway are his best four runs there...14th (2/27/00), 11th (10/22/00), 6th (2/25/00), 3rd (11/04/01). * In his last six starts at Rockingham, Bobby Labonte owns one win, four top three...

* Johnny Benson's last four runs at North Carolina Speedway are his best four runs there...14th (2/27/00), 11th (10/22/00), 6th (2/25/00), 3rd (11/04/01).

* In his last six starts at Rockingham, Bobby Labonte owns one win, four top three finishes and five top 10s.

* Tony Stewart owns an average finish of 5.5 over his last four starts at "The Rock"...4th (2/27/00), 7th (10/22/00), 4th (10/25/00), 7th (11/04/01).

2001 Average Finish - North Carolina Speedway
1) Johnny Benson, Pontiac - 4.5
2) Tony Stewart, Pontiac - 5.5
Bobby Labonte, Pontiac - 5.5
4) Dale Jarrett, Ford - 7.0
5) Ricky Craven, Ford - 8.5

JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:

TALK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR JANUARY TEST HERE...

"We feel like the test went pretty well. There are always things you can learn and we felt like we learned a couple of different things. We started out doing qualifying runs and then we pretty much went into race mode. The race is obviously the most important part of the weekend, so we wanted to really focus on our race setup. "We felt like we were pretty good last year in both races here and we just wanted to improve a little bit on that because with some improvement, I believe we can win this race."

WHAT HAS BEEN THE REASON FOR YOUR RECENT SUCCESS AT ROCKINGHAM?

"I like this place. I've always liked Rockingham. It's a 'slip-slide' type racetrack. You've got to finesse it a little bit and we've been able to get our Pontiac to really handle there the last few times. Even going back to when I first started racing in the Busch series, we've always run good there."

WHAT ELSE MAKES ROCKINGHAM WORK FOR YOU?

"One thing I really like about Rockingham is that turns one and two end up being two grooves, and three and four ends up being three grooves a lot of times. That's always fun when you can go race like that. If everybody is down at the bottom, you've got another choice. You just go ahead and run the top, or vice-versa."

HOW DO YOU PACE YOURSELF ON A LONG RUN HERE

"Here, it really depends where you start. The farther back you start, the harder you've got to run, just to utilize the 'goodness' of the tires right from the start. We're starting up front, but you're still not going to hang out by any means, because we want to lead this race. But, you'll let the air pressures work their way in, run three or four laps and let everybody get going. Usually what happens is after the Busch race, they'll have the jet dryers out here to blow the track off and you always get a little bit of kerosene on the track from the burners, so it will be just a little slippery there at the beginning. You're going to be careful for a couple of laps and then you're going to go."

CAN YOU SET YOUR OWN PACE HERE?

"You're going to do what the leader is going to do to start with. If he's going to take off and run, you at least have to keep him in sight because you know you're going to get some cautions.

"You approach this place like any track. You can hustle the car, but you don't want to be sliding the car sideways coming off the corners or you'll eat the tires up pretty quick. You've just got to be smooth. I think if you stay smooth you can still run hard. You've just got to keep the car underneath you as opposed to 'dirt-tracking' it off the corners or something like that."

HOW MUCH OF A ROLE DO AERODYNAMICS PLAY HERE?

"Aero plays a part at every racetrack we run, but here it is more about the teams; it's about the setups; it's about the drivers and things like that. You see guys with a fender knocked off that are still running in the top two or three here at the end of the day. It's all about getting your car good. The aero deal always helps. I'm not saying it's not a factor because it's always going to help no matter where you're at. But in the same token, getting your car to handle, getting your car to be easy on tires - that's more what tomorrow is all about."

-pontiac-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven