Harrisburg, North Carolina - Brad Bennett, former NASCAR Busch North Series regular and current part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor, has been chosen to practice and qualify the ...
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Brad Bennett, former NASCAR Busch North Series regular and current part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor, has been chosen to practice and qualify the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the NASCAR Busch Series First Union 200 at Nazareth Speedway on May 22, 1999.
The team's regular, full-time driver, Andy Santerre, was injured in a lap-24 accident in the season opening NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway and has been healing a broken leg for the last 12 weeks. NASCAR Winston Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" contender, Elliott Sadler, has been filling in as the driver of the #47 until Andy Santerre is able to get back in the racecar. However, this weekend's event in Nazareth conflicts with The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte where Sadler is scheduled to compete. Therefore, the team has elected to put Brad Bennett in the MONRO Muffler Chevrolet for practice and qualifying. Sadler will fly in Sunday to start the First Union 200.
Bennett, a four-year veteran of the Busch North Series, enjoyed success on NASCAR's Northeastern based series. Bennett has seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes to his credit. He was also honored with the series "Most Improved Driver" award in 1996.
"I am honored to have been asked to help Andy and the team out," the 25-year old Bennett commented. "I am real familiar with the IMI team. Andy and I have been good friends and competitors for four of the last five years and Mike Greci (crew chief) and I have a history as well." Bennett adds, "I am also familiar with MONRO as I carried their logo at Watkins Glen last year in the Busch North race. I am real comfortable and excited about this opportunity and can't wait to get to Nazareth."
Bennett has enjoyed tremendous success at Nazareth Speedway especially. In just two Busch North Series starts, Bennett has compiled one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He qualified 7th in 1997 and has completed 100% of laps raced at Nazareth Speedway.
"Most drivers find Nazareth a hard track," Bennett, a Stamford, Connecticut native, admits. "But I have enjoyed a lot of success there and the track really fits my driving style. I have no doubts that I can get the MONRO Monte Carlo in the field and get it set-up for Elliott to race. I'm looking forward to being part of the IMI team this weekend."
Sadler, who will compete in the Winston Open Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, will fly in with other Cup drivers for the start of the race on Sunday.
"We knew this would be the only conflict in schedules for Elliott," Mike Greci, IMI crew chief, explained. "We had a few drivers in our thoughts for a while and we, Andy, George (team owner), Joe (team manager), and I, decided as a group to go with Brad Bennett. Brad helped us out at New Hampshire spotting and is going to spot this weekend as well as qualify the car. Brad knows the MONRO people real well and they support him completely."
MONRO Muffler Brake & Service will be hosting 120 vendors, employees, and VIP's in the Premier Club for the First Union 200.