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LOUDON, NH - JULY 20:  Jason Leffler leads a pack of trucks in his #2 Carquest Racing Dodge Ram during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Series New England 200 on July 20, 2002 at the New Hampshire International Speedway, in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

May 5 – Today in Jayski’s NASCAR history

May 5, 2002

  • Benson injured in BGN race UPDATE 3 will NOT race at RIR, may miss Winston Open: Johnny Benson was injured in an accident Friday night in the Hardee’s 250 BGN race. Benson and rookie Brian Vickers got together in Turn 3 on Lap 23 of 250, which sent Benson’s #31 Chevy hard into the wall. It was Benson’s first BGN race of the season. Benson was transported to Memorial Regional Medical Center where he was diagnosed with a broken rib on his right side. A CT scan of his head was negative for injuries. He was undergoing additional tests late Friday. Benson’s status for Saturday night’s Winston Cup race remained unclear. He qualified 16th fastest during time trials earlier Friday.(ThatsRacin.com), hearing no decision will be made about Benson’s status until later this afternoon.(5-4-2002)
    UPDATE: Statement From Jay Frye, General Manager MBV Racing: #10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson will not race in tonight’s #Pontiac Excitement 400 due to injuries suffered in last night’s Busch Series race. "Johnny took a very tough hit. The doctors at here in Richmond decided to hold him overnight for precautionary reasons. We support their decision. There is a long way to go in the season and we feel it is in Johnny and the team’s best interest to have him sit out tonight. Johnny said he is going to watch the race on television from the hospital. Joe Nemechek will drive the Valvoline Pontiac tonight. We are very grateful that Joe has agreed to drive for us. Johnny and James Ince our crew chief put our car at the top of the practice sheets in both sessions yesterday and we know Joe is a top caliber driver so our goals for tonight’s race remain the same. We appreciate all that the hospital, track and NASCAR officials have done in the last 24 hours.
    Statement From Richmond International Raceway: "Johnny Benson suffered a broken rib. He was admitted to Memorial Regional Medical Center for observation. His release is anticipated in the next 24 to 48 hours."(MBV Racing PR), Nemechek will have to fall to the rear of the field before the green flag.(5-4-2002)
    UPDATE 2: Benson was released from the hospital Sunday and is at the track today.(5-5-2002)
    UPDATE 3: Johnny Benson was out of the hospital and back at the track Sunday, sore but excited to be out of the bed and on pit road. MBV Motorsports team manager Jay Frye said that he didn’t expect Benson would return in time for the Winston Open in Charlotte two weeks from now. Benson won The Winston Open in 2001. He did, however, say he plans to be back in the # Valvoline Pontiac in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.(NASCAR.com)(5-5-2002)
  • Keller in the #21? UPDATE: Don’t be surprised, by the way, if BGN points leader Jason Keller, who won Friday night’s Hardee’s 250, becomes one of the drivers seriously considered as Sadler’s replacement in the Wood Brothers’ #21. As it stands now, of course, Sadler figures to remain in the car through the end of the season. Keller has been around for years but only recently turned 32. After taking his knocks and being dismissed as a BGN lifer, Keller, all of a sudden, finds himself in the unlikely position of being an overnight sensation. When asked about the potential for finding a Winston Cup ride, Keller was cautious. "It would have to be a place where I felt like I could win races," he said. "There have been some brief discussions, but nothing serious. I’m happy where I am, and right now there’s no reason to think anything is going to change. I love this team, and I’m comfortable where I am."(Gaston Gazette)(5-5-2002)
    UPDATE: BGN points leader Jason Keller, who got his third win of the season on Friday at Richmond, may be headed for the Winston Cup Series as soon as next season. Keller said he has been getting inquiries from Winston Cup teams interested in hiring him to drive one of their cars. "The phone’s starting to ring more and more, and I’m sure it’ll be ringing this week," he said. "But it’s going to take a good situation to get me out of where I am now." He said he wouldn’t leave his present team unless he felt he was going to a Winston Cup team that was capable of winning races right away. "I don’t think the grass is greener on the other side just because it’s Winston Cup," he said. "I’m happy where I am now, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there." He said before he held any serious talks with a Winston Cup team owner, he’d go to his current owner, Greg Pollex, and tell him what he was doing. "I’m not the kind of person that would go behind anybody’s back," he said. "Greg has been very good to me."(Atlanta Journal Constitution)(5-5-2002)
  • Park Speaks Out: The news that Dale Earnhardt Inc. officials have spoken to Elliott Sadler put DEI drivers Steve Park and Michael Waltrip on the spot this week. Both are in the final year of their contracts. Park took advantage of the spotlight to share his perspective on the story. "`DEI has to do what’s right for their company," Park said. "It’s a great company and I wish them only the best, but I’d hate to see them make a lateral move. If Jeff Gordon was available, there wouldn’t be nobody happier than myself to see him come to DEI. But to make a lateral move that has uncertainty behind it, I just don’t agree with that." Park has competed in six races this season and missed the final 12 of last season after a bad crash in Darlington, S.C. He’s won two races for DEI, one in each of the past two seasons. Sadler has one career win. "`I think what we have … is a winning race team, a winning driver. We’ve proved that in the past and we’re definitely going to prove that in the future," Park said. "I feel like we have unfinished business."(Tampa Tribune/AP), see my #1 Team News and Links page for more on this ‘rumor’.(5-5-2002)
  • Blaney’s Track Opens: Winston Cup driver [#77 Ford] Dave Blaney made his debut in a new role last night. His track in Hartford, Ohio, opened [Sharon Speedway]. Blaney spent the winter months renovating the facility in preparation for a season of sprint cars and dirt Modifieds. "They pulled the racetrack up that was there, and we made a smaller track and doubled the seating," he said. Taking over a small track is a risky proposition, at best. Blaney joked that he was keeping his day job but said he thinks his place should be a success. "It seems like there’s some that do well and others that just struggle," he said. "We knew that going in, so we tried to make something that was very nice."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-5-2002)
  • Petty to bring back BGN team? Kyle Petty said a goal at Petty Enterprises is to form a BGN team and run a few races this season. Petty said the goal had been to put Steve Grissom in the team’s BGN car or align with a BGN team. That was before Grissom replaced Buckshot Jones in one of the team’s three Winston Cup rides [#44]. Petty said the team continues to work toward restarting a BGN program by the end of the year. If a team is developed, Petty said it probably won’t have a young driver. "At this point in time we are probably 80% sure, unless it’s a phenomenal younger driver, we’re not going to put a younger driver in the car," Petty said. "We don’t have the luxury of a Hendrick or the luxury of a Roush organization or a Gibbs or a Yates to train a driver and bring a driver along. We’ve got to get guys in here that can win races. I think that was the main reason we made the change with Buckshot. We just felt like to move forward with Petty Enterprises we just didn’t have time to bring Buckshot along at the rate we needed to come along."(Roanoke Times)(5-5-2002)
  • Santerre wins North race: haven’t seen much on former BGN driver and winner, Andy Santerre: Andy Santerre made quite a splash in his return to the Busch North Series, winning the 2002 opener April 21 at Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway, staving off runner-up Mike Olsen, the defending series champion. "It’s always good to win right off the bat, but that one wasn’t easy," said Santerre, the native of Cherryfield, Maine, who last raced full-time on the Busch North circuit in 1997. "There were a couple of cars that were real good, but I got a couple of breaks and got up front. I don’t think any races are free. You’ve got a lot of good cars and good equipment now. You’ve got to try to be the best prepared you can." Santerre will try to make it two in a row in the Granite State when he competes in the Busch 125 Saturday at NHIS.(Tennessean/AP)(5-5-2002)
  • Terry Cook wins at Gateway: Terry Cook broke an 88-race CTS victory drought Sunday, winning the Dodge Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. Cook, who went to the emergency room with flu symptoms on Wednesday, recovered sufficiently to bring his #29 Ford from the eighth starting position to the lead by the 91st of 160 laps. #2-Leffler was 2nd, followed by #16-Bliss, then #14-Crawford and #75-Starr.(NASCAR.com), see results at NASCAR.com.(5-5-2002)
  • Truck Series Stays: NASCAR vice president for corporate communications Jim Hunter heard the rumors and read the stories about the uncertain future of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. This weekend Hunter paraphrased a famous statement by a former Missourian as a response. "As Mark Twain once said, the reports of the demise of the Craftsman truck series are greatly exaggerated," Hunter said. He said the series will be around for the foreseeable future, and it is scheduled to receive increased attention from NASCAR in the near future. Hunter said that Gary Nelson, NASCAR’s managing director of competition, was scheduled to be at Gateway International Raceway this weekend to observe the series. "The reason," Hunter said of Nelson’s visit, "is to have a look and get a better handle on what NASCAR needs to do for the Craftsman truck series." What NASCAR won’t do, Hunter said, is shut down the trucks. "There is no doubt that the Craftsman truck series is here to stay," he said. "The reason we started the series was because so many Americans drive some type of truck. They still do. So we’re excited. We think it is gaining momentum." The series’ future came into question recently when a racing trade paper ran a story that alleged the demise of the trucks was not exaggerated. The story indicated the series was beset with problems and the garages were filled with disgruntled people. Hunter also points to improved television ratings, higher race attendance and bigger truck counts as proof that the series is thriving. The series’ title sponsor, Craftsman tools, also seems content with the trucks series. Craftsman, which has been with the series since its inception, last year signed on for five more years as title sponsor. "Sears and Craftsman are extremely proud of the series," John Lebbad, Sears director of event marketing and sales promotion, said. "We feel the sport continues to grow. We are very happy with our sponsorship." Hunter reiterated that the truck series "is not going down the tubes." "We see a great future for the trucks series and we are going to support it," he said. "We think it is the coming series for NASCAR."(Kansas City Star)(5-5-2002)

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