Racing is a Full-Time Proposition For NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Driver Joe Benedetti DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2004) - There are a handful of drivers in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series whose ...
Racing is a Full-Time Proposition For NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Driver Joe Benedetti
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30, 2004) - There are a handful of drivers in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series whose full-time profession is racing and taking care of their car, but Joe Benedetti is not one of those. However, the Auburn, Wash. product deals with racing during all his waking hours.
Competing in the Northwest Series is just one part of Benedetti's motorsports career. When he is not working on his car, he runs the shop for RaceCals, a family-owned business for over 20 years. RaceCals supplies stickers, shirts and other novelty items to tracks and promoters all over the country. "My job is to see that the stuff gets produced and out the door," he says.
"It's a great business to be in. There are tons of good people in racing and the relationships that we have forged over the years are the best."
RaceCals supplied many of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division stickers, as well as, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series decals this season. "It's just a pleasure to deal with all the different promoters and track operators," he said. "It's just a fun business."
But the business at hand for Benedetti, the driver of the Bret Chevrolet/RaceCals Chevrolet is to gear up for a strong finish in the Northwest Series' final five races of the season.
Everyone knows that consistency is the key to racing for points, but not the sort of consistency that the Benedetti team has experienced this season. "We've been consistent alright. Consistently up and down," says the ninth-year series driver. "We have one race that we do well and think that we're on our way, then we have a poor performance." In order, Benedetti has finished: sixth, 27th, eighth, second, 11th, 18th and third this season.
"We just need to go out and be aggressive and not worry about what the other teams have and don't have," says Benedetti. "We want to race for wins and not for fifth. This series is very competitive and there are several good cars out there, but we can race with them. We just need to go out and do it more regularly that we have so far."
Benedetti finished third in the Frank's Chevrolet 125 on July 24 at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway, a race in which he led for 45 laps. Benedetti is hopeful that his Yakima performance could serve as the springboard heading into the final five races of the season.
The first of the those five events is the 6th Annual Rumble in the Rockies Miller Lite 125 at Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Mont., one of Benedetti's favorite tracks. "I really like that track a lot. It is definitely a favorite," he said. "It has a roller coaster-type feel to it with the banking of the turns heading downhill into the straightaways. The bottom is the fast way around and that it where you have to be to have any chance."
"It's very important that we do well there after the solid run at Yakima. We have to start stringing good runs together two reasons," Benedetti said. "One is that we want to win a race this year and the other is to get a better grip on a slot in the Showdown."
The Showdown that he is referring to is the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway Nov. 11-13. The top 10 teams in each of the four series, which comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, will be invited to compete in this special post-season event.
"We went down there last year and did not have the kind of run we would have liked," admitted the 30 year-old driver. "We learned quite a bit about that track last year and it was a definite goal heading into this season.
"It's a great facility. It's the biggest race that many of us may ever be in. They treat us like kings. There are lots of great drivers there that I have a lot of respect for," he said. "To simply put it, it's a wonderful event that we don't want to miss."
Benedetti currently sits in 10th in the Northwest Series championship point standings, but John Bender sits in 11th, just 18 points away. In fact, the race for the last three spots in the Toyota All-Star Showdown will be quite the battle over the next two months as only 111 points separate Jeff Jefferson in seventh and Tom Sweatman in 13th.
The Benedetti family may well be involved in the Toyota All-Star Showdown from the RaceCals perspective, but they would much rather be there as a competitor.
Consistency is the key and it must start on August 7 in Kalispell.
What: Miller Lite 125 (Race No. 8 of 12 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).
Where: Montana Raceway Park, Kalispell, Mont.
When: 10:00 p.m. MDT (approx.), Saturday, August 7, 2004.
Track layout: 1/4-mile oval.
Race length: 125 laps/31.25 miles.
Posted awards: $46,117.
2003 winner: Wes Rhodes.
2003 polesitter: Kevin Hamlin.
Top 10 in points: 1. Garrett Evans 1117, 2. Travis Bennett 1070, 3. Pete Harding 1036, 4. Jason Jefferson 1032, 5. Gary Lewis 1022, 6. Brandon Riehl 997, 7. Jeff Jefferson 987, 8. Steven Howard 986, 9. Wes Rhodes 982. 10. Joe Benedetti 948.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): 11:00 a.m. Registration opens, 2:30-5:00 p.m. Practice, 7:15 p.m. Time Trials.