Texas: Johnny Benson preview

Benson on importance of testing. ...

Benson on importance of testing.

#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson and his teammates are limited to five test sessions each year at tracks where the NASCAR Winston Cup Series holds races. The testing restrictions are designed to reduce the teams' costs in both time and budget. It also makes it mandatory for teams to selectively choose their test dates and locations. Benson and his Crew Chief James Ince spent one of their five allotted tests at Texas Motor Speedway on March 4 and 5. A test that Benson said was very successful but whose final results won't be know until the checkered flag drops on Sunday. .

Benson on Testing:

"Testing helps a bunch. If we didn't have a limit then we would spend all of our time and effort testing at places about every week. We'd probably end up like the Formula One teams hiring test crews and drivers that spend their entire time testing and never race. I know it makes life tough on crew chiefs who wish they could test more, but there is a balance Nascar has to reach. I think they basically do a pretty good job. Our guys are stretched to the max now as it is with the schedule we keep.

"As a driver it helps me in learning the quickest way around these places. For the driver, crew chief and team it helps in us trying to find the race setup or qualifying setup we are looking for. Testing gives us a foot up on the competition by going to a place early. Remember, on these race weekends we only spend about 90-minutes on Saturday morning working on that race setup. That isn 't a lot of time if you want to start experimenting with race setups. That is especially true at this time of year with the new bodies. The key is finding a good balance to the race car and testing is the best and easiest way to do just that.

"Testing helps even after practice starts. The whole key is keeping up with the track changes. The tires, surface, weather, fuel loads, traffic can all change the way your car handles. If you can go back in your testing notes and learn what worked or didn't work for a given set of conditions then you have an advantage.

"Rockingham last year was a good example. We weren't very happy after Saturday practice so James made a lot of changes. That was a time we hit it right on the money and we went out and won the race. How do we know which changes to make? That is where testing matters. We had tested there and knew what made the car work and what didn't under different circumstances. We applied what we thought would work based on testing.

"You never really know how the track is going to change. That's kind of the secret to doing well. It's where the crew chief and driver earn their money. The crew chief has to be able to make changes on the car based on what I'm telling him over the radio. It doesn't do you much good to know how the track is at the moment, but how it will be in an hour or two.

"We tested at Texas the week before Atlanta. It was really slippery the day we were there. It was losing a lot of grip. I think that is going to be a good thing. Not a bad thing. Speeds will be down a bit, but the track is in pretty good shape and should host a really good race. I hope it gives us an advantage. We were pleased with what happened there but that doesn't mean anything until we show it on the track Sunday."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Johnny Benson