Johnny Benson is a former NASCAR Busch Series champion, but
has never won a race at Darlington. As Benson looks ahead to the Diamond
Hill Plywood 200 NASCAR Busch Series race, coming up on Saturday, March 20
at the track "Too Tough To Tame," however, he feels his prospects are pretty
"I love Darlington because it is such a tricky place to drive. It is one of
my favorite places on the circuit," said the driver of the Yellow
Transportation Dodge. And I think it is going to be even harder now."
The reason? Benson expects that Darlington, already known as the most
difficult track on both the NASCAR NEXTEL and Busch Series circuits, will
pose new challenges for competitors due to the recent installation of SAFER
(Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers at the historic facility.
"The racing groove at Darlington has always been real narrow, and now it is
even narrower. You are probably going to enter the corners a little bit
differently, and I've got to believe that is going to become a little bit of
an issue," Benson said. "But the more tracks that add the safety barriers,
the better it is for all of us."
Benson has not run a Busch Series race at Darlington since his championship
season of 1995. But he remembers finishing second in both races at
Darlington that year.
"We had a chance to win both races," he said. "And with the record the
Yellow team had last year at Darlington, I can't wait to get there. I think
we've got a chance to have a real good day - if we can stay off the wall."
It is often said of Darlington that drivers focus on racing the track itself
rather than racing each other. The unique character of Darlington seems to
make her a very active participant rather than simply a location or setting
for a race. Benson feels that trait could be more important than ever as
drivers tackle the slightly altered landscape of NASCAR's oldest, and
therefore most familiar, facility.
"If you know you are a little faster than the guy out ahead of you at
Darlington, you don't need to race that guy," he said. "Just keep on doing
what you are doing, and he'll come back to you, as opposed to saying, 'I'm
going to go after him.' If you race that way at Darlington, you are going to
abuse your tires that much more, and you can't afford to do that. They fall
off fast enough without any help from you!"
Tickets are still available for the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 weekend,
which includes qualifying day on Friday, March 19, the Diamond Hill Plywood
200 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, March 20, and the Carolina Dodge
Dealers 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Sunday, March 21.
For tickets or more information, call the Raceway ticket hotline toll-free
at 1.866.459.RACE (7223), or log onto
Contact: Darlington Raceway public relations 843.395.8892