BNS: Dover: Travis Benjamin race notes

Benjamin a victim of mechanical gremlins at Dover Travis Benjamin's second race at the Dover International Speedway was looking to be even better than his eleventh place performance at the one-mile track last year in his Irving Oil Ford Taurus.

Benjamin a victim of mechanical gremlins at Dover

Travis Benjamin's second race at the Dover International Speedway was looking to be even better than his eleventh place performance at the one-mile track last year in his Irving Oil Ford Taurus. Dover, 2002 edition, did not treat Benjamin kindly as he was the victim of a mechanical problem that forced him to retire from Friday afternoon's MBNA All American Heroes 150, a NASCAR Busch North Series race.

Benjamin, driving the same car he used a week before at New Hampshire International Speedway, was an impressive seventeenth in the first practice session held Thursday afternoon. In qualifying, though, he slipped to 22nd overall with a time trial lap of 25.463 seconds (141.382 MPH).

"We tried doing some more stuff, and we're learning," he said. "We might have gone too aggressive, and I might have been overdriving the car. The car feels great, we're just down on power and that's hurting us. I think we're down about thirty horsepower. The car feels real good, I guess I overdrove it a little bit, but we've got to go for it. The car got loose and then I had to chase it. I think we'll be all right for the race. The track's real rough, and I can feel all the bumps. We're going to try to make it so it's not so rough for me in the final practice."

In that final practice, Benjamin was 22nd fastest.

Benjamin stayed on the lead lap through the race's opening laps, and pitted for fuel under the race's first caution period. He restart in the 21st position. In the next stretch of green flag racing, he moved up to fourteenth, and, despite falling off the lead lap, he was thirteenth, the first car a lap down, on a restart just after the halfway point. His race was over, though, just twenty-five laps from the finish when he brushed the outside wall and felt a vibration. The vibration was traced to two broken studs that hold one of the wheels on, which is a dangerous condition to continue racing on. Benjamin retired from the event, and was classified as finishing 22nd in the final results.

"When I hit the wall there, two wheel studs broke," he said. "I started to feel a vibration going into the corner, that wasn't too bad. Then I started feeling it down the straightaway and I had to bring it in. I didn't want to destroy a race car over it. We found out we had two broken studs. I had so much oil on my windshield, that's why I brushed the wall. I didn't hit it hard, it was just enough to crack the studs. The car was great. I could sink it in and drive it up off. It was maybe a little bit loose, but nothing that bad. We just needed more motor. I wish we had a good engine in it. That might have made it better, but what can you do."

Benjamin has two NASCAR Busch North Series races remaining on the 2002 schedule: a 150-lap event at the Stafford Motor Speedway, followed by the traditional season-ending Burnham Boilers 200 at the Lime Rock Park road course.

-ajc-

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