A Repeat Would Be Fine With John Bender as The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Packs For Yakima Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 21, 2004) - As the television networks head into the "re-run" season, John Bender would be...
A Repeat Would Be Fine With John Bender as The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Packs For Yakima Speedway
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 21, 2004) - As the television networks head into the "re-run" season, John Bender would be more than happy with a repeat. A repeat of last year's first NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series race at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway, that is. It was a race that he won on his way to 10 top-10 finishes and a fifth place finish in the point standings.
In fact, the win came in a stretch that saw him pick up two victories in three races. The Snohomish, Wash. resident picked up momentum for the remainder of the season and it is that momentum which he is looking to start this year in the Northwest Series.
Bender, 34, takes his Oso Lumber and Hardware/Reece Asphalt Chevrolet to Yakima for the Frank's Chevrolet 125 on May 29 coming off a second place finish in the Oso Lumber 125 at Evergreen Speedway. The ball is rolling, but he would like it to pick up a little more speed. "I'm really looking forward to Yakima since it is one of my favorite tracks in the series," he said.
It is the good surface and the fact that there are definitely two racing grooves are what Bender likes most. However, like most of the Northwest Series tracks, "You have to be patient, have some luck and play track position," he added.
Bender is currently fifth in the championship standings, 60 points behind leader Jason Jefferson. He feels good about being in that spot after having a flat tire sabotage the effort at the season opening race at TriCity Raceway, but he was still able to salvage an 11th place finish in that event. About the current landscape Bender feels, "I'm in a good spot at fifth. We finished fifth last year so I am fairly pleased at this point. I just want to build on that Evergreen (Speedway) finish and stay consistent."
His position in the standings, and heading to a track where he has had success, are not the only reasons that have Bender feeling good about the 2004 season. In the off-season he and Oso Lumber and Hardware signed a three-year sponsorship agreement. "They just did not want to sign a one-year deal. They suggested the three years and that was fine with me. It's good stability for the team," said an understated Bender.
Along with the new sponsorship deal, Bender is driving a new car this year. "Well, it's not really new. It is an older car of mine that Steve Craig, my crew chief, and I fixed up. It's been pretty good so far," he said. Other than that there have been no other major changes in the Bender camp running under the Kearney Racing flag.
Sounds a bit like a re-run, doesn't it? Nothing would make John Bender happier than a repeat of last year at Yakima Speedway.
What: Frank's Chevrolet 125 (Race No. 3 of 12 in the NASCAR AutoZone
Elite Division, Northwest Series).
Where: Yakima Speedway, Yakima, Wash.
When: 8:45 p.m. (approx.), Saturday, May 29, 2004
Track layout: 1/2-mile oval
Race length: 125 laps/62.5 miles.
Posted awards: $43,192.
2003 winner: John Bender.
2003 polesitter: Jason Jefferson
Top 10 in points: 1. Jason Jefferson 360, 2. Garrett Evans 320, 3. Brandon Riehl 315, 4. Travis Bennett 312, 5. John Bender 300, 6. Steven Howard 297, 7. Wes Rhodes 285, 8. Shane Biles 284, 9. Rod Schultz, Sr. 256, 10. Pete Harding 253.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): 10:00 a.m. Registration opens, 2:30-5:00 p.m. Practice, 6:00 p.m. Time Trials, 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Race.