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Pennzoil Pontiac Race Report: Benson at Bristol

26 August 1997

Benson Dodges Cars, But Not Caution Flag

August 23, 1997
Bristol, Tenn. 

   Pennzoil Pontiac driver Johnny Benson survived 500 laps at Bristol 
Motor Speedway on Saturday night as he dodged several spinning and 
even one flipping car. But, Benson's biggest nemesis at the world's 
fastest half-mile track turned out to be an untimely yellow flag that 
dropped the 1996 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year  two laps behind the 

   Benson posted an 18th-place finish -- four laps behind the leaders 
-- but remains 12th in the point standings. 

   "It was a rough weekend," Benson said immediately after the race. 
"We are still searching for the right setup here. We seem to always 
struggle here, but we worked hard tonight and stayed out of trouble. 
And, we avoided a lot of wrecks."

   Benson began Saturday's race in 22nd position and struggled with 
handling in the early part of the race. A few stops during caution 
periods enabled his Bahari' team to improve the car allowing Benson to 
race in the top 20.

   As the race wore on Benson reported a push condition that made the 
car difficult to turn in the high-banked corners of  Bristol.  New 
tires were almost a half a second faster at Bristol, so the team 
decided to pit a bit early on lap 183  to take on new tires and 
correct the push condition. 

   Because it takes only 17 seconds to make a lap at Bristol, Benson 
fell down two laps to the leaders while making his green flag stop. He 
would regain the laps when the leaders pitted, unless a caution fell  
-- which it did. The leaders pitted under yellow and Benson never 
regained the laps.

   "Man, that killed us," Benson said. "But there is really nothing 
you can do about that. We had to pit and that is the risk you take in 
short track racing."

   But luck and skill enabled Benson to dodge several wrecks 
throughout the evening. The most spectacular occurring just past the 
halfway mark in the race when 10 cars careened down the front stretch 
blocking the track and forcing Benson to stop. The wreck included 
David Green whose car flipped before landing right-side-up. The scary 
accident didn't injure Green. 

   Late in the race, Mike Skinner slammed the turn one wall and slid 
inches from Benson's Pennzoil Pontiac.

   Benson and his Bahari teammates return to action on Sunday in 
Darlington, S.C.

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