Joliet: Benza progresses, but leaves wishing for more

CHICAGO (June 3) -- Pro Stock driver Bob Benza, the newest fulltime racer on the NHRA circuit, made plenty of progress this weekend at the fourth annual Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals. But in the end, the 41-year-old from Briarcliff Manor,...

CHICAGO (June 3) -- Pro Stock driver Bob Benza, the newest fulltime racer on the NHRA circuit, made plenty of progress this weekend at the fourth annual Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals. But in the end, the 41-year-old from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., left Route 66 Raceway wishing for more after failing to qualify for the second quickest elimination field of all-time by just seven hundredths of a second.

Benza and his BNB Racing crew are working double-time to break in a new 2001 Pontiac Grand Am and find the perfect tune-up for their Frank Iaconio motor. The group did manage to put together a season-best pass of 6.966 seconds at 198.67 mph during two days of qualifying, numbers that Benza finds encouraging.

"We took some steps in the right direction this weekend," Benza said. "But they were little baby steps. I have to admit that I'm not very patient when it comes to our performance on the racetrack. I want us to do well and I expect, at the very least, to qualify for every event we enter. We have all the pieces in place to succeed now so we have no excuse for not performing well. It's disappointing, so we'll work harder and try to improve at the next race.

"Our biggest problem here was a bad batch of clutch discs. The coatings on the discs were coming off and it upset the transfer of power to the driveshaft. That was causing the car to shake the tires down low, which would just disrupt the entire run. If you're not quick off the starting line you're not going to get into a field of 16 as quick as this one turned out to be."

The NHRA circuit now takes a week off before returning to action June 14-17 at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

"I'm encouraged by the speeds we've been running with this new motor," Benza said. "If we can get the other components of this racecar in order we should be okay. I'm anxious to race. I want to stay and play on Sunday. That's why we're out here."

-Geiger-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bob Benza