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Pennzoil Pontiac Race Report: Benson Finishes 16th at Daytona

7 July 1997

Pennzoil Race Report
Pepsi 400
July 5,1997
Daytona International Speedway

Race-Ending Carnage Works in Benson's Favor This Time

Daytona International Speedway repaid Pennzoil Pontiac driver Johnny 
Benson a debt owed since February when another driver's mistake 
relegated him to 28th and ruined a sure top-10 finish. 

On Saturday, Benson's struggles with the heat and slippery track eased 
when another last-lap crash eliminated more than six cars allowing 
Benson to climb to 16th place.

Although Benson gained ground on several drivers higher in the 1997 
Winston Cup point standings, he dropped one place to 14th. The 1996 
Rookie of the Year is only 110 points behind ninth place.

"It was a tough day," Benson said. Throughout the day Benson, like 
most drivers, complained of a severe understeer or push condition.

Benson appeared headed for a 22-nd place finish when most teams 
thought the race had ended because of a crash involving Ricky Rudd 
with only 5 laps left in the race. But, NASCAR gave the leaders the 
green and white flag at the same time indicating only the final lap 
would be under green. That meant the 32 cars on the lead lap each had 
a lap to get to the front.

"You better watch this boys because this is going to be big," Benson 
warned his crew over the radio seconds before the green flag waved. He 
was right.

The one lap shoot-out resulted in a massive wreck that took out Mark 
Martin, Dick Trickle, Bobby Hamilton, Derrike Cope, Ward Burton and 
others. The crash demolished several cars, but no drivers suffered 
serious injuries.

"I told you that was coming," Benson radioed after the checkered flag 
fell giving John Andretti his first victory. "Every time they give the 
green-white it seems that happens."

Maybe the best news of the day for the Bahari' team came after the 
race when Pennzoil Pontiac jack man Gary Leffler limped back to the 
team truck from the infield care center . Leffler missed the last 
quarter of the race as he received five stitches on his leg. Kenny 
Wallace ran over Leffler during the final pit stop.

ESPN commentator Dr. Jerry Punch cared for Leffler until track medical 
staff arrived and transported the first-year crew member to the 
infield care center. 

In other news, Daytona International Speedway will light up the night 
on July 4, 1998 for the 40th running of the NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 
400. The Speedway announced on Saturday next year's Pepsi 400 will be 
raced at night with a new lighting system.

1997 Points Standings

   1.  Jeff Gordon         2400               0
   2.  Terry Labonte       2346             -54
   3.  Mark Martin         2290            -110
   4.  Dale Jarrett        2278            -122
   5.  Jeff Burton         2113            -287
   6.  Dale Earnhardt      2113            -287
   7.  Bobby Labonte       2029            -371
   8.  Ricky Rudd          1936            -464
   9.  Jeremy Mayfield     1850            -550
  10.  Ted Musgrave        1845            -555
  11.  Michael Waltrip     1816            -584
  12.  Rusty Wallace       1752            -648
  13.  Bill Elliott        1748            -652
  14.  Johnny Benson       1740            -660
  15.  Darrell Waltrip     1728            -672

Benson and his Bahari' teammates return to the track this weekend in 
Loudon, N.H. in the Jiffy Lube 300.

For More Information
Contact: Drew Brown
Cohn & Wolfe
(404) 880-5269