No. 10 team looking good so far in Daytona
Updated: Tuesday February 13, 2001 1:23 PM
The first weekend at Daytona is over and I think it's safe to say we are in for a pretty exciting week down here.
Did you watch the Bud Shootout?
That was amazing stuff. It isn't often that I get to be a fan, but I watched that race and I held my breath just like all of you probably did. I think NASCAR has come up with some rules that are going to be exciting for you the fans. I'm not so sure all of us drivers are going to like it, but it should be a good show Thursday for the qualifying races then on Sunday for the Daytona 500.
How was our weekend?
Let me put it to you this way. We came to Daytona in January testing and were about the 30th quickest car. My crew chief James Ince and our Valvoline team went back home and started working on the car hoping to make it faster.
It worked. We qualified 11th on Saturday and start up front for the qualifying race Thursday.
James said our next mission is to win the qualifying race so every day this week during practice we are going to work on getting our car to be pretty good in the draft. As you saw on Sunday, I think everybody is going to stay in the pack most of the day, so the guy that wins Daytona is still going to be the guy who gets his car to work well in traffic.
Those practices get pretty wild sometimes, but the only way you can find out how good or bad your car really is, is to go out there and run hard with the pack. Sometimes that can lead to pretty wild practices but that's what you have to do.
Last year we came within three laps of winning this race. Obviously, I hope we come just as close this year and even lead those final three laps. Can we do it again? Sure, I think our car is just as good as anything out here, but as you saw on Sunday in the Shootout anything can and will probably happen.
It isn't just racing down here in Daytona.
When we aren't practicing we have something to do every night down here. Either you are doing media stuff, going to NASCAR appearances or something for Valvoline. So the week goes by pretty quickly.
Well that is all for now. I hope the next diary I write I will be writing to you as a Daytona 500 champion.
In 2001, Johnny Benson will be in the MBV Motorsports Valvoline No. 10. His diary will appear periodically on CNNSI.com.