Johnny Benson on getting to pit lane The dangers drivers and pit crews encounter on pit lane each week in the Nascar Winston Cup Series is well documented. But pit lane isn't the only treacherous part of the track a driver must negotiate coming...
Johnny Benson on getting to pit lane
The dangers drivers and pit crews encounter on pit lane each week in the Nascar Winston Cup Series is well documented. But pit lane isn't the only treacherous part of the track a driver must negotiate coming in for tires and gas during the race.
One of the toughest places on a race track is the stretch of pavement around turns three and four. That's where drivers have to slow from their race speed then turn down on the apron before entering pit lane where speed restrictions further slow the cars.
#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson believes there are a few reasons why fans are seeing more and more incidents in this area as well as pit lane this season.
Benson why so many incidents getting to pit lane?
"At a lot of these tracks the change from the racetrack to the apron is so abrupt that, with the speeds we are running, it can be pretty tough to drive without losing control of the car. Some of the wrecks we have seen on pit road are from people making erratic moves. They come on to pit road and don't know there is someone beside them and they hang a sharp left and wreck a bunch of cars. That shouldn't happen. Sometimes you decide at the last second to come into the pit and you have to hit the brakes and turn left pretty hard. If there is someone on the inside you are going to have a problem. Sometimes it is the driver's fault and sometimes it is the team's. My team usually tells me by turn three that they want me to pit. If the teams wait to tell the driver at the last second or he decides on his own at the last second it gets pretty tough.
"The driver has to pay attention. Knowing you are going to pit, you don't mind locking up the tires because you know you are going to get new ones. You just don't ever want to lock up the tires to the point where you lose control of the car. It is always easier when you have somebody in front of you. You have someone to judge off of. Sometimes it's easier to come in behind somebody."
Benson on getting to pit lane at Talladega:
"On these superspeedway you are going from 200 mph down to about 140 mph just getting ready to enter pit lane, but it feels like you are doing 50 mph. You don't realize how fast you are going and you have to stand on the brakes. The tires are hot, greasy and it's hard to get this heavy cars slowed down. If you are extra cautious you lose time which means you could fall out of the draft. If you do it too fast you could wreck your car or miss pit lane. I wouldn't be surprised if you see some problems Sunday."
Will any rule change help?
"I don't know if there is anything they can do. Nascar has done a good job of moving the speed limit starting point further away from that first pit. It gives everyone more of an opportunity to slow down before we enter pit lane. In the past the guy in the first stall could enter the pits as fast as he wanted, but he had a hard time getting stopped. Moving that line back has given everyone more time to get their cars under control. Once we get to pit lane we have the speed limits. I think pit road speeds are here to stay. The safety of the crews is more important than going down pit lane fast."
Is getting to pit lane a skill?
"I think so. It's experience. I ran ASA for four years and did the Busch Series so I was used to pit stops. When I went into ASA there wasn't a pit speed limit and I would go into some of these pits that I was unfamiliar with and it was pretty scary. Those cars were light enough you could recover. But our Winston Cup guys are experienced enough that a lot of these pit road incidents shouldn' t happen."
What do you expect Sunday in Talladega?
"(Crew Chief) James (Ince) once said we could race rental cars around Talladega and put on a great show. I have no doubt Sunday will be the same."