The second-generation racer capped off his 2017 season with a win in September’s Velocity 250, then opened up 2018 with a win and a runner-up in the night’s twin 35-lap feature events.
“I’m not the type of guy that gets nervous,” says Benedict of his head-turning performance. “I was just living in the moment tonight. Once I was on track, everything felt natural. It was a long off-season, but as soon as it was time to go it all came back to me again. It’s just like riding a bike.”
May 5th marked the division’s inaugural event spent racing on a new 10-inch tire implemented by Sunset over the off-season. And, despite entering the race with understandable apprehension, Benedict worked quickly to get a handle on his Shaw Chassis No. 54.
“We really didn’t know how the car was going to react to the new tire,” admits the Orono, ON racer. “Fortunately, we found a really good balance in practice and just kept improving from there.”
“The car was a rocket in time trials and drove exactly the way I needed it to in race trim. It was an awesome night. It’s impossible to be mad at any part of a [Season Opener] where you can finish 1st and 2nd”
And, while Benedict was more than ready to enjoy the fruits of his labour on Night 1, he knows that the hard work is far from over for his family-run team.
“We knew that whatever team could catch on to the new tire was going to have a big advantage early,” says Benedict. “But, even though we were good tonight, I know that we have to get back in the shop and see what we can do to improve for next weekend.”
“Anyone we finished in front of on [Night 1] is going to be doing all they can to chase us down next Saturday,” adds the former Mini Stock standout. “So we need to make sure we’re ready to outwork them.”