Originally created 08/28/99

Bristol notes: Benson a fan of the Speedway

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Johnny Benson is a big fan of the Bristol Motor Speedway.

He loves racing at a track where the grandstands are so tall, he can't see the top row. He loves the 36-degree banking in the turns. He loves the concrete racing surface that provides a lot of gripe and seems to shake the fillings out of his teeth.

"Here's how I get around Bristol: I hold my breath in the turn, then I take three quick breaths down the straightaway. Then it's time to hold my breath again. I do that 1,000 times since there's 500 laps."

LUXURY OF HOME: There are three things that are vital to success at Bristol: First is a strong engine. Second is a car that handles perfectly in the corners. And third is a motor home.

Every driver in tonight's field for the Goody's 500 has a motor home parked out behind the backstretch. That not only allows them to stay close to their work, it means they work with the team until the late hours Friday, go to bed, then not have to fight traffic on Saturday.

The race doesn't start until 7:30 p.m., but second round qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. About 20,000 fans will be in their seats at six hours early to watch time trials, while the rest of the 110,000 fans expected will filter in before 6 p.m.

By having a motor home at the speedway, drivers who have to arrive at the track early, then sit around all day waiting for the race. Many will stay in their motor homes during the day to watch television and relax.

DRIVER UPDATES: IndyCar driver Al Unser Jr. has interviewed for the driving job at Cal Wells' new Tide-sponsored stock car team for 2000, but Unser apparently wants too much money for his services.

Unser apparently is leaving toward a new stock car team being formed by A.J. Foyt that will carry Conseco sponsorship.

Also, Todd Bodine, Steve Grissom and Jerry Nadeau were in new cars Friday for pole qualifying, but none of them are considered fulltime replacements.

Bodine is driving for Eel River Racing after it fired driver Derrike Cope this week, while Nadeau is filling in for injured driver Ernie Irvan, who's home with a bruised lung and minor head injury following a crash at Michigan a week ago. And Grissom is working the controls in Nadeau's old car. Nadeau, who last month announced he was jumping to a new team in 2000, got a head start by his current employer, Melling Racing.

PIT STOPS: Grissom's car is carrying the colors of the Atlanta Braves on the hood. That car is sponsored by Turner Entertainment and if often switches between The Cartoon Network and World Championship Wrestling. This time, however, Turner decided to put another of his projects on the hood ... Race officials at the Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, site of next week's Southern 500, are on emergency alert with Hurricane Dennis threatening the Southeast coast this weekend. Darlington is located about 90 miles west of Myrtle Beach, S.C.


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