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Pennzoil Pontiac Racing Report: UAW-GM Quality 500

6 October 1997

UAW-GM Teamwork  500
Charlotte, N.C.  

Benson's Nears 10th-Place Goal

With Pennzoil Pontiac driver Johnny Benson headed to Roush Racing next 
year; Bahari Racing ready to employ Derrike Cope and Pennzoil planning 
to put its colors on another car; it might be easy to think Benson, 
his Bahari' Racing teammates and the sponsor have thrown in the towel 
for the final few races in 1997 and are already thinking about 1998.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Benson and teammates have one goal in mind and that's to climb into 
the top-10 in the 1997 Winston Cup points standings; something neither 
has ever achieved. Going into Sunday's race at Charlotte the team 
occupied 12th place and holding a slim lead over some charging 
drivers. It needed a strong race for a realistic chance at the top 10. 

A strong run is just what the Pennzoil Pontiac posted on Sunday.

Benson and company overcame two flat tires, falling down a lap early 
in the race, and a slick track to post a 10th-place finish. A 
performance that moved Benson to 11th place ahead of Ricky Rudd and 
only three points behind Jeremy Mayfield in 10th place.

"It was a long tiring day," Benson said immediately after the race. 

He started in 15th place and moved to 12th before leader Bobby 
Labonte's blistering laps put all but the top nine cars a lap down. 
But a turn two accident that included a Labonte spin allowed Benson to 
regain the lap and move as high as seventh place.

Benson looked strong until a flat tire during a caution period dropped 
him back to 14th.

"In some respects we were lucky today because we found that we had a 
flat tire under the yellow and were able to come back into the pits 
without losing a lap or wrecking," Benson said. "We also were able to 
make a lap up early in the race when the leader spun."

But Sunday's finish also represented a lot of hard work.

"Our crew chief Doug Hewitt and engine builder Ron Puryear have put in 
a lot of hours and I think its to their credit that we did well 
today," Benson said. "The car was pretty good and I could turn some 
quick lap times by myself but whenever we got in traffic I just 
couldn't get the car turned."

Benson persevered and brought the Pennzoil Pontiac home in 10th place 
well ahead of Ricky Rudd who finished 41st after he dropped out of the 
race because of the accident that  nearly ended Labonte's day. 
Mayfield finished behind Benson as did Rusty Wallace who trailed 
Benson by less than 30 points before the race.

Dale Jarett won Sunday's race leading Dale Earnhardt and Labonte 
across the finish line.

The Bahari' crew had another reason to celebrate after the race as it 
watched its front tire changer Tom Hubert finish second in the NASCAR 
Sears Craftsman Truck Series race in Sonoma, Calif. Hubert 
occasionally drives Roehrig Motorsports Dana Dodge in the truck 

The Pennzoil Pontiac returns to action at Talladega on Sunday.

Race for 10th            Pts.      Pts. Behind

10. J. Mayfield         3,132          -- 
11. Johnny Benson       3,129           3 
12  Ricky Rudd          3,119          13 
13. Rusty Wallace       3,103         129

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