Former South Sound Speedway star, Joe Benedetti, is ready to capture his third career win on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series at his home track. Benedetti has rebounded from a sub-par 2000 season, finding himself in the hunt for the 2001 season championship with six races left on the schedule. Benedetti is third in the championship standings, 111 points behind leader Kevin Hamlin.
Benedetti has two career wins on the series, both coming at the Tenino, Wash. speed plant. His first win came with less than ten career starts. He kicked off his run to the 1999 Totem Travel Rookie of the Year title with a win in the Pepsi 125.
This season, Benedetti has eight top-10 finishes in nine events. Consistency has been the big factor in the RaceCals/Support MRO Pontiac teams turnaround from last year according to Benedetti.
“Last year we led a lot of laps, but we had engine problems that cost us some time. This year the motor and the team is where we should have been last year. There have been a couple of times this year that I thought we had a winning car, especially at Wenatchee where we were leading and got a slow leak in the tire. We finished the race with 13 pounds of air in the right rear,” Benedetti said.
The first stop of the 2001 season for the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series at South Sound Speedway saw Benedetti jump to a big lead in the event. While never looking to be comfortable with a lead, Benedetti admitted that one slipped away from him that night.
“At Tenino, we led most of the race. We got together there with another car late and it was one I thought we should have won,” Benedetti said.
The race track does not owe Benedetti a win he says. A good finish for the evening and continued success in the points race are the weekend goals for Benedetti.
“I’m looking forward to going home. No race track owes me anything I’ve learned,” Benedetti said.
“I always look forward to going to tracks that I feel real comfortable on, it’s the kind of track I grew up racing on. Tenino has real tight corners and there are lots of hip checks and rubbing tires,” he added.
South Sound Speedway has undergone a re-paving project and while speeds have picked up, Benedetti explained that it still presents challenges to a driver.
“We tested tires when the track was brand new and it was real grippy. When we went back to race, it had already given up some so I went back to my old set-ups. It feels like the same old Tenino, you have the same handling problems and the same transitions so the shocks are the same. It’s the same track except we’re going a second or two faster,” Benedetti said.
Saturday, August 11, qualifying is set for 6:00 p.m. with the field expected to begin the Pepsi 125 at 9:00 on the .375-mile paved oval of South Sound Speedway.
The Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series that blanket the United States. NASCAR Touring brings special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses. NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks. Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Raybestos Brakes, Featherlite Trailers, Gatorade, Goody’s Headache Powders, O’Reilly Auto Parts, RE/MAX International Inc., and R.J. Reynolds brand Winston.