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Pennzoil Pontiac Race Preview: Benson Ready for Darlington

27 August 1997

Benson Ready For New Darlington=20

Johnny Benson started 36th at Darlington in April and appeared=20
headed for a top-five finish before a late-race brush with the turn=20
three wall relegated the Pennzoil Pontiac driver to 10th place.=20
Another good run at NASCAR's oldest speedway is important in Benson's=20
bid to climb into the top-10 in the 1997 Winston Cup Point standings.=20
He is in 12th place now, but only 65 points behind Ricky Rudd in 10th=20
place. This weekend's race poses a new challenge to all of the=20
drivers. Darlington flipped the frontstretch and backstretch. The=20
first turn is now the old turn three and the old turn three is now the=20
first turn.
Benson on:

...Darlington's new configuration:

   "I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's gong to take some time=20
getting used to everything, but I think I will like the change. I=20
don't know if we are going to have to dramatically alter anything we=20
are doing with the Pennzoil Pontiac. We are certainly going to qualify=20
better this time. I like passing people, but starting 36th at=20
Darlington like I did last time is just way too much work.=20

   "Some people really dislike Darlington, but I don't. It's a very=20
challenging place. Each of the turns has a different radius and=20
usually the track gets hot and greasy. I know it's a clich=E9, but you=20
really have to race the track and not worry as much about who you are=20
passing. We have always raced pretty good there and I really hope that=20
doesn't change."

...are you more relaxed in your second year:

   "A second year has definitely helped. Whenever you go into a new=20
arena there is a certain apprehension, but having run the Busch series=20
for two years I pretty much knew what was going on in the Winston Cup=20
garage. It took some learning of the tracks that I hadn't visited in =20
the Busch series. But, there is still pressure. Pennzoil is a big=20
sponsor and they want to do well, plus you put a lot of pressure on=20
yourself to do well. Everybody in this sport deals with that.

...the Bahari' Team

   "We have a fairly young team. Most of our guys have about two years=20
experience. So our crew chief Doug Hewitt and engine builder Ron=20
Puryear, who both have a lot of experience, have done a lot of=20
teaching. I think that will pay off long-term for this team. All of=20
them work extremely hard which is important."
Benson's Winston Cup Record at Darlington

Year                        S   F   LC  TL  Status     Money
1996                                              =20
TranSouth 400              38  24  288  293 Running  $ 21,485=20
Mountain Dew Southern 500  27  11  365  367 Running  $ 26,440=20
TranSouth 400              36  10  293  293 Running   $28,805

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