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Pennzoil Pontiac Racing Report: Loose Lugnuts

13 October 1997

Oct 1997
Talladega, Ala.   

Loose Lugnuts lead to Maybes for Benson 

   A few loose lugnuts might have kept Pennzoil Pontiac driver Johnny 
Benson from a good finish Sunday at the Talladega Superspeedway and 
prevented the 1996 Rookie of the Year from moving into the top ten in 
the 1997 Winston Cup point standings.

   Those loose lugnuts also might have prevented Benson's day from 
ending in a 17-car accident in turn three and dropping him below the 
12th place he now occupies in the point standings after Sunday's 
Diehard 500.

   Benson started and finished 19th on Sunday. Like most drivers, 
Benson moved up and down the field in the 40-car draft, but appeared 
to have a top ten car when he came into the pits on lap 110. The 
four-tire stop appeared to prepare the Bahari' team for a late race 

   "There something wrong," Benson radioed the crew seconds later. "It 
feels like there is a wheel coming off, like we left a few lugnuts 

   Unfortunately, the second-year driver pinpointed the problem and 
the Pennzoil Pontiac fell down a lap after the unscheduled stop to 
change all four tires. He returned to the track in 40th-place and 
appeared ready to lose another lap to the hard charging draft when 
Jeff Gordon's cut tire sent the points leader sliding in front of the 
whole pack causing one of the biggest accidents of the season.

    Benson took advantage of the accident and moved up to the 20th 
position, but was never able to regain the lost lap.

   "Yeah we might have been in the accident, but we really beat 
ourselves today and you just can't do that at this level of racing," 
Benson said.

   Benson dropped to 12th in the points race but just a few points out 
of tenth. Several drivers climbed in the standings making for a 
dramatic battle for the top ten in the final three races of the year.

Points Battle For Tenth

8  Bill Elliott    3536
9  Ted Musgrave    3322
10 Rusty Wallace   3242
11 Ken Schrader    3240
12 J. Benson       3235
13 J. Mayfield     3217
14 Ernie Irvan     3214
15 Ricky Rudd      3180

   Benson and the Pennzoil Pontiac return to the track in two weeks at 
the North Carolina Speedway. The Bahari' team will test there Tuesday 
and Wednesday of this week. 

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