Johnny Benson, the No. 46 Wyler Racing TRD Toyota Camry rider, give racing enthusiasts a taste of what is forthcoming at the Crown Royal Presents the Jim Stewart 400 this Saturday which will be held in Richmond, Vancouver. The .75-mile Richmond International Raceway is expected to be filled with nerve-racking thrill as veteran racers chase the oval and make the most out of 400 laps.
Benson, a famed name in the racing realm, has raced his way around the short track of Richmond International Raceway (RIR) in all three of NASCAR’s top-tier divisions – the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
The veteran racer has garnered 15 starts throughout his Nextel Cup Series career at RIR, with his best finish in 2001 while he was riding the No. 10 Valvoline Pontiac. Benson has also yielded five starts at RIR in the Busch Series. There, he grabbed two top-five and three top-10 finishes. Benson has started in three Craftsman Truck Series events at RIR and had fallen a little short of the top-ten twice.
When asked about his teaming up with Wyler Racing, Johnny Benson has this to say: “I think it’s going to be great. The Wyler’s and (Crew Chief) Tony Furr asked me to do some testing for them at the end of last year and we thought that test went pretty well. As this year got underway, they were talking about doing some more testing and called to see if I would do it. I said, ?Yeah, I’d be glad.? I thought it would be pretty cool to help them test and just to help them out.?
Benson added, ?I like doing that type of stuff. We went to Richmond earlier this month and the test went very well. I was hoping that if they ever went racing I’d get an opportunity to drive. I told them that they didn’t have any obligation for me to drive it, but that I would love to have the chance. This past week they called and said that we were going to race at Richmond and that I could drive, so I was pretty excited about it. It’s a pretty cool deal.”
Intimating his thoughts on racing at Richmond, he said, “I think as a whole Richmond has been a great track for me. I love racing there. I love the type of track it is. I like how the racers approach that track knowing it’s a two groove race track. You can race anywhere you want. You don’t have to beat and bang your way past somebody. It’s just a great race track. And it’s a Saturday night race which is great for the fans and you know the whole atmosphere aspect of it is good. It’s a type of track that I like. It’s a challenging track but it’s also a finesse style race track. I think that falls within my suit. I’ve had a lot of great races there and some that we’ve run really well that don’t have the finishes to prove that based off being caught up in something. But it’s a place that I really enjoy and love to race at.”
“I think the communication that I had with Tony Furr at the test in Richmond was excellent. We unloaded for the test and were decent right off of the truck. As the day went on, I was pretty impressed by Tony and all the guys that work at Wyler Racing,? Benson said.
Describing the testing at Richmond, he added, ?I was impressed when I worked with them at the Homestead test last year and then, of course, at Richmond too. They all work well together and communicate well. Our speeds were good and we were happy with our qualifying efforts and our speeds in race trim. It will be a different deal going back for the race, but I hope we can maintain the type of run that we had at the test. But now that (the other teams) have run the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ in a couple of races, they’re going to have a little bit of an upper hand. So I think we have our work cut out for us, but believe that we can go there and run good and hopefully be competitive and qualify for the race. The opportunity sitting in front of us is a good opportunity to hopefully go there and run well.”
Benson is nothing new to different types of racing especially the short track. As a fact, he is deemed a guru in racing parts and techniques. The Gibson exhaust may not be part of his check list but Benson has a remarkable record that reflects his skill and expertise on the matter. “I like racing on all of the tracks that we go too. They all have their own challenges. But I think as most racers – because we grew up on short tracks – we always enjoy racing on them. We do so many intermediate tracks now that the short tracks are a little more few and far between Maybe not so much in the Truck Series, but in the Cup Series. So I think we all enjoy going back and running the short track races,” he noted.
Talking about qualifying for the Cup Show, Benson said, “It definitely puts some pressure on the whole organization when you have to qualify on time for the race. Hopefully we’ll get in the field and post a good time and not be in that situation where you’re biting your nails trying to find out if you’re going to be in the race or not be in the race. That’s no fun.”