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Pennzoil Pontiac Racing Report: Benson in Michigan

18 August 1997

Benson's Pole Highlights Return Home

August 17 1997
Brooklyn, Mich.

Pennzoil Pontiac driver Johnny Benson already knew  NASCAR Winston Cup 
racing is an emotional rollercoaster. But, this weekend's return visit 
to his homestate of  Michigan served as a reminder.

Several strong drives from the rear of the field highlight the first 
20 races of  Benson's 1997 season. The Bahari' team's qualifying 
effort isn't as good as last year's standards, but its race 
performance is dramatically improved  leading to several top-10 
finishes and leaving Benson in contention for a top-10 position in the 
point standings.

"I guess we have been concentrating on racing more than qualifying," 
Benson said last weekend. "I prefer to do well in the races since it 
pays more, but we need to qualify better as well."

His desire came true Friday when the Pennzoil Pontiac posted the 
quickest time of the 44 cars qualifying at the 2-mile Michigan 
Speedway. Benson claimed his first pole since last March at Atlanta. 
But, the 34-year-old Michigander seemed to enjoy the award more this 

"This is extra special because it comes here in Michigan," Benson 
said. "Our crew really worked hard for this and its a well deserved 
award for all the hours they put in on the Pennzoil Pontiac. They all 
seem to be pretty happy after this."

Benson used the pole starting position to his advantage on Sunday 
grabbing the lead on the backstretch and leading the first four laps. 
But the Pennzoil Pontiac gradually faded to midpack where the 1996 
Rookie of the Year spent most of the day. 

Mark Martin won the rain-plagued race leading Jeff Gordon and Ted 
Musgrave across the finish line.

Benson finished the race in 24th position, but still retains his 12th 
place standing in the points race. The Pennzoil Pontiac returns to 
action Saturday night in Bristol, Tenn.

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