Sears Point: Johnny Benson preview

NASCAR drivers from lots of places This weekend the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits the road course of Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, Cal - not exactly a traditional venue for the sport whose proud roots started on dirt tracks ...

NASCAR drivers from lots of places

This weekend the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits the road course of Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, Cal - not exactly a traditional venue for the sport whose proud roots started on dirt tracks throughout the South.

But NASCAR is changing and so are the places where teams find drivers. More than a third of the drivers that comprise the top 43 spots in the driver standings come from three states: Indiana, California and Missouri. Although most drivers live near Charlotte, N.C. a typical weekend's entry list includes the drivers' official hometowns that represent about 20 states.

For drivers like #10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. NASCAR's growing diversity is an indication of the sport's success.

Johnny Benson On NASCAR Racing Encompassing Entire Country:

"There were days when I guess you could say me and other guys from outside the South were a minority, but if you walk through the garage anymore you can hear all kinds of accents. It's not just that. We get stopped for autographs in places you might never think we'd be popular. I've signed autographs in the Waldorf Astoria in New York, in Japan, and we get fan mail from Europe all the time. NASCAR Racing is a national if not international sport and I hope it keeps growing. Look at the number of fans that show up for our races in New York, California, Michigan, Texas and Indianapolis. In a few years I bet you will add a few names from outside the United States to that list."

Benson On Road Courses:

"They are kind of fun. I'm glad we only have to do two a year. Now if they had a schedule with a lot more road courses then I might go find some other thing to do. You get better the more you run but by the same token everyone else does too. That keeps the playing field fairly equal."

Benson On Road Course Strategy:

"You run the best you can and you have to stay on the track. If you stay on the track, by the end of the day you should be in pretty good shape."

Driver State By State

Indiana 5
(Stewart, J. Gordon, Newman, Andretti, Raines)

California 5
(R. Gordon, Skinner, Mears, Johnson, Harvick)

Missouri 5
(Schrader, R.Wallace, M. Wallace, K.Wallace, McMurray)

Virginia 4
(J.Burton, W.Burton, Sadler, Rudd)

North Carolina 3
(Earnhardt, Jarrett, Petty)

Kentucky 3
(Mayfield, M.Waltrip, J.Green)

Texas 3
(T.Labonte, B.Labonte, Foyt)

Michigan 2
(Benson, Sprague)

New York 2
(Park, T.Bodine)

Georgia 1
(Elliott)

Arkansas 1
(Martin)

Wisconsin 1
(Kenseth)

Connecticut 1
(Nadeau)

Pennsylvania 1
(Spencer)

Tennessee 1
(Marlin)

Florida 1
(Nemechek)

Maine 1
(Craven)

Washington 1
(Biffle)

Nevada 1
(Busch)

Ohio 1
(Blaney)

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Johnny Benson