Winston: Johnny Benson preview

Johnny Benson didn't enjoy watching the Winston Open last year on top of the Valvoline team's pit box. Injuries suffered in a wreck at Richmond two weeks earlier sidelined Benson for the Winston's qualifying race. This year he'll watch the...

Johnny Benson didn't enjoy watching the Winston Open last year on top of the Valvoline team's pit box. Injuries suffered in a wreck at Richmond two weeks earlier sidelined Benson for the Winston's qualifying race.

This year he'll watch the Winston Open on the Valvoline team hauler. And that's just the way he wants it. Benson isn't racing in the Open this year because his Rockingham victory in October qualified him for the Winston -- the sport's all-star event.

Although it is the first time he has qualified for the Winston, it won't be be his first appearance. In 2001 Benson won the pole and the Winston Open race. He started the Winston in 20th before leading 17 laps and finishing 9th in the final segment.

Benson is on a roll. He won Saturday night's Todd Senneker Memorial Race at the Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. It was the second win for Benson at his home track in less than a year.

Benson's teammate Jerry Nadeau was injured at Richmond two weeks ago and continues to recover in a Richmond Hospital. Mike Wallace is substituting for Nadeau.

Benson On Watching The Winston:

"It'll be nice to watch the Open this year because it's for all the right reasons. We earned our way into the Winston so watching this year will be fun. Last year stunk. I realized I wasn't real good at being a fan. Most drivers aren't good at watching. You want to be in there."

Benson on The Winston:

"This weekend is a different deal. You have a little bit different mindset. There's nothing to leave on the table. You aren't going to worry about points, or saving the car for the long run or anything like that. Those last few laps are all about getting to the checkered flag.

"In 2001 we restarted the final segment in third and then led a bunch of laps. It was a great feeling. You know, I like just about everybody I race with but in that final segment with that much money and that nice of a trophy on the line nobody is a friend. You race as hard as you can and yeah you might take some risks you normally wouldn't take. I think that's why the fans like this so much."

Benson on Winston Qualifying That Includes A Pit Stop:

"That's going to be fun. I know everyone says this. But I think we have a shot at the pole. That's how fast our pit crew has been. It's kind of nice knowing the driver isn't going to have to bear all of the responsibility for qualifying this weekend although getting in and out of the pits is going to be very important. The last thing you want to do is have a fast car, a great pit stop and screw up on pit road."

Benson On Nadeau:

"We are still thinking of Jerry and his family. I think we will always be thinking about him until we get him back with us. We all feel pretty fortunate that we get to go and race and do what we want to do. Racing is important, but getting Jerry well is what really matters right now."

The Winston
Location: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, NC.
Date: Saturday, May 17, 2003
Time: 9:00pm/et.

Distance:...... 90 laps, 135 miles (run in three segments of 40 laps, 30 laps and 20 laps). Teams must make a mandatory green-flag, four-tire pit stop at some point during the first segment, and lap No. 40 must be completed on the track. The top-20 finishers from the first segment will advance to the second segment. There will be a 10-minute break following the first segment, at which time teams may change tires and make chassis adjustments without losing track position. Only the top-14 finishers in the second segment will advance to the final segment. There will be a 10-minute break following the second segment, at which time teams may change tires and make chassis adjustments without losing track position. The field will be inverted as determined by fan voting prior to the start of the final segment. All restarts in The Winston will be double file and only green flag laps count in the final segment.

-mbvm-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jerry Nadeau , Mike Wallace , Johnny Benson