Valvoline becomes Benson's team's (half) owner

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 19, 2000) Johnny Benson will be behind the wheel of the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac in 2001. The Valvoline Co. on Saturday announced a landmark agreement to become the first major consumer products company in history to own...

BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 19, 2000) Johnny Benson will be behind the wheel of the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac in 2001. The Valvoline Co. on Saturday announced a landmark agreement to become the first major consumer products company in history to own a major portion of a NASCAR Winston Cup Series team beginning with the 2001 season. Veteran driver and Grand Rapids, Mich., native Johnny Benson will remain behind the wheel of No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac Grand Prixes. Valvoline will be an owner with MB2 Motorsports, with the new team to be named MBV Motorsports.

Valvoline also signed a three-year agreement to be the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Pontiacs beginning in 2001, continuing Valvoline's long and successful sponsorship role in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. Benson will continue to be a teammate with Ken Schrader, who drives the No. 36 M&M's Pontiac for MB2.

Benson, 37, now resides in Cornelius, N.C. His accomplishments include the 1990 American Speed Association (ASA) Rookie of the Year; 1993 ASA ACDelco Challenge Series champion; 1994 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Rookie of the Year; 1995 NASCAR Busch Series champion; and 1996 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year.

He currently is 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings. Benson led both the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway and has a best finish of second at Bristol Motor Speedway. MB2 Motorsports purchased a majority interest in the former Tyler Jet Motorsports team earlier this season after an aborted sponsorship deal put owner Tim Beverley's team in danger of not being able to complete the season.

Prior to the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Aaron's Rents signed with the team as its primary sponsor for the balance of the NASCAR 2000 season.

"Wearing the Valvoline driving suit is such a great honor for me," Benson said of the new deal. "No other sponsor or brand stands for winning or racing as much as Valvoline. I worked with Valvoline earlier in my career and know their tradition and the quality of the company's products and people.

"I wanted to keep working with James Ince and I wanted to keep driving Pontiacs. Kenny Schrader and I are good friends and I'm looking forward to running the full season next year with him. Our goal will be to run up front as much as we can."

Jay Frye, general manager of MB2 who formerly was involved with Valvoline's motorsports program, said, "Can you believe this? A few weeks ago we were running a white car. Next year, we'll have the No. 1 brand and sponsor in the history of racing on our car.

"I can speak for Tom Beard, Nelson Bowers and Read Morton (MB2 owners) in saying that we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Valvoline as an owner-sponsor.

"Valvoline's presence will also help us attract associate sponsors. We now have a great outlook for next year."

Valvoline President Jim O'Brien, speaking at a news conference Saturday at Michigan Speedway, said, "This is an exciting and important day in the 134-year history of our company. For many years, Valvoline has enjoyed a reputation as an innovative and successful sponsor.

"Today, we raise Valvoline's commitment to NASCAR Winston Cup racing and its fans by becoming a team owner," said Valvoline President Jim O'Brien. "Today, we raise Valvoline's commitment to NASCAR Winston Cup racing and its fans by becoming a team owner."

Valvoline is completing this season as the sponsor of Roush Racing's No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Fords driven by Mark Martin. Barry Bronson, Valvoline's sports marketing director, said Valvoline remains fully committed to Martin and Roush for the rest of this season.

"We hope Mark and the No. 6 Valvoline car runs well in every race and can climb in the Winston Cup standings," Bronson said. "We will do everything we can to help contribute to Mark's success in the remaining races."

Bronson also expressed appreciation to Aaron's Rent, an Atlanta-based company, that is sponsoring the No. 10 car throughout the remainder of the 2000 season.

"Valvoline's move into team ownership mirrors the technological advancements found in our products used by millions of racing fans," O'Brien said. "We now step into a larger world, one full of new challenges and opportunities as a team owner.

"In MB2, we have found a partner which not only shares our passion for NASCAR racing, but also our commitment to attain goals and produce results.

"In Johnny Benson, we have not only a talented driver, but also a quality person who will continue to attract new fans and be an excellent representative for our Valvoline, Eagle One and Zerex brands."

Bowers said he looks forward to working with Valvoline.

"They bring a lot of marketing expertise to the table," he said. "And we are really excited about fielding a two-car team for the full season next year."

The team plans to relocate, prior to next February's Daytona 500, to a new facility under construction in Concord, N.C. James Ince has agreed to continue as Benson's crew chief.

Steven A. Kirchner, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Valvoline, said becoming a NASCAR Winston Cup team owner, in addition to sponsor, was a marketing-driven decision.

"In recent years, we have witnessed many changes in NASCAR ownership and sponsorships," Kirchner said. "We're doing something different here. But the marketing philosophy mirrors what we've been doing for years with our brands.

"We must continue to be innovative, creative, challenging and aggressive in our marketing strategies to maximize the return on our marketing investments. Winston Cup racing has experienced tremendous growth in TV ratings and attendance.

"Newly formed network broadcast alliances, new race tracks in major markets and expanded marketing opportunities all but guarantee a new growth curve for the sport. That's why Valvoline wanted a bigger stake in Winston Cup racing. What better way to be more involved than by becoming an owner?

"This partnership with MB2 fits our marketing objectives, and well-positions Valvoline in the business of NASCAR Winston Cup racing moving into the new 21st century."

Valvoline also introduced a new Valvoline Racing brand, which symbolizes the company's numerous racing accomplishments and future innovations. Valvoline's racing victories and achievements include Indianapolis and Daytona 500 wins, the Formula One World Championship, NASCAR Winston Cup championships and NHRA Winston Drag Racing championships.

The logo will be introduced to the public through a comprehensive advertising, marketing and licensing initiative. -NASCAR-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ken Schrader , Johnny Benson , Mark Martin