BUSCH: Brooklyn: Johnny Benson preview

Benson returns home to Michigan. ...

Benson returns home to Michigan.

#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson goes home to familiar territory this weekend when his Valvoline race team visits Michigan International Speedway. Benson will race Wednesday at Berlin Raceway in the Chester Mysliwiec Open Invitational Memorial Race (two 50-lap qualifying races and a 100-lap Late Model feature race). Benson owns part of his home track.

On Sunday, Benson hopes to take advantage of Nascar's decision last week to extend the front air dam of the Pontiac by a half-inch and the front air dam of the Chevrolet by a full inch. The extension should create more front downforce allowing the General Motors cars to turn better.

Benson Notes:

Benson has finished in the top six at MIS in three of the last four Nascar Winston Cup races.

Benson finished sixth at MIS in June -- his best finish of the 2002 season.

Benson will be the guest at the Winston Media Breakfast at the MIS media center at 8:30 a.m on Saturday.

Racing at Berlin Raceway:

"I'm driving my late model car up to Michigan Monday afternoon then we are going up to do a little racing Wednesday night at my home track of Berlin Raceway. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's just a chance to relax and do some racing. I'm bringing my road crew guys up there for the Wednesday night race. Those guys all grew up short track racing and we are just going to go up there and have a lot of fun. We sign a lot of autographs during the week and I'm going to make them sign with me."

Plans At Home:

"We have a Valvoline appearance in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, then race on Wednesday. We go to the track at MIS on Thursday. When we aren't racing or doing sponsorship stuff we will just relax with the family."

Racing At Michigan:

"I expect we are going to run pretty well there. Three of the last four races there we have had pretty good runs. I plan to do even better than the sixth-place finish we had last time. Michigan doesn't really change from the first race to the second race so I don't expect anything dramatically different this weekend. Michigan is right up there with the fastest tracks where we race. It's a two-mile track with a real wide racing groove. It produces some great racing. Its downfall is that because it is three grooves they have very few cautions and it becomes a fuel mileage race that isn't what everybody looks forward to. You start thinking fuel mileage before the start of the race. You know it's going to probably end up on fuel."

Rule Change:

"I'm glad for Pontiac getting a little more on the nose. We have found you can get through qualifying OK, but the Pontiacs have trouble racing compared to the other makes. It will be nice for Pontiac although Chevrolet got double what Pontiac got. Nascar is doing some of the right things by making changes and bringing parity into the deal. But, we need to get rid of the aero push. I wish they would have taken the front air dam away from the other makes instead of adding to us. I think that is contributing to the aero problems. But once we get these changes on the cars we will have to wait and see how everything balances out."

Benson is racing this week for the Midcoast Maine Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters Of America. Each week Valvoline donates money to the national Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America organization as well as an individual local chapter based on the Valvoline Pontiac's on-track performance. Valvoline matches the performance by donating $5,000 for a win, $2,500 for a pole, $1,000 for a top ten 10 finish, $500 for a top 20 finish and $20 for each lap led. The 3-year program has raised over $850,000.


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Drivers Johnny Benson