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NASCAR SPOTLIGHT

Johnny Benson, driver of the No. 30 Pennzoil Pontiac, leads the Winston Cup rookie of the year standings.

Q: You're a former Busch Grand National Series champion, but you have taken your lumps so far as a rookie in Winston Cup. Has the jump been more difficult than you expected?

A: It's been difficult and yet it hasn't. The cars are a little bit different (about 100 pounds heavier and more horsepower). I think the biggest thing right now is just trying to get everything worked out where we'll start running a little better. The crew has had to deal with the new Pontiac body and a rookie driver all at the same time. So that's where our downfall has been, trying to get on top of two things at one time. For me, dealing with the high competition has been the hardest part right now. Hopefully, in time, that will change.

Q: The redesigned Pontiac body was supposed to help you guys, but has the adjustment to it actually set you back a little bit?

A: I don't think it set anybody back, but I think originally everybody had some pretty high hopes of it being better than the (Chevrolet) Monte Carlo, which obviously it is not. It's been tough. We need some more downforce on the front of it and just some more time with it. Maybe for development, the car came out a little bit earlier than it needed. But it's going to be a good race car. It's just going to take time.

Q: Some veteran drivers such as Kyle Petty and Mike Wallace have lost their rides recently. As a rookie, do you feel added pressure to perform right away in order to keep from losing your ride and going back down to the Busch series?

A: Well, there's no doubt about it. I feel I'm in a pretty good situation, so I really don't worry about it. It's something that I know some guys worry about and others don't worry about it at all. I feel I have enough talent to stay in Winston Cup, but I guess time will tell if that's true or not. But right now, I try not to worry about it. I've got enough stuff to worry about. Plus, there's so many elements to it. The crew. The car. It's not just the driver.

_ DARRELL FRY

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