With sponsors hard to find and the rough state of the economy, Robby Benton had to do what he had to do to keep his team his float.
“I had to go the route of everything that I had acquired for myself and utilize that to keep my team float by using other drivers that their own sponsorship, their own funding,” Benton said during an interview on Tuesday afternoon. “So going that route to just survive, to keep the team together.
“So I started doing that. I was the crew chief and general manager and we grew from a part-time ARCA team to a full time ARCA team and then we parlayed that into a full time Nationwide team and now we’re in our fifth season in the Nationwide Series.”
With Alex Bowman behind the wheel and Chris Rice calling the shots this year, the No. 99 team has scored five top 15 finishes in seven starts, including a third at the season opening Daytona race.
This past weekend, though, RAB Racing branched out with a second car – the No. 29 Toyota Care Camry – with Kenny Wallace driving.
“Just to get Kenny Wallace back in the seat – he has done a lot for our race team,” Benton commented. “He had been a very important part of RAB Racing for the past almost four years. Being able to take him back to a place that is near and dear to him – Richmond is one of his favourite tracks – I think was very special to us.”
Benton also got to return to his roots, sitting on the box as the crew chief.
“As a car owner on this race team, my normal day to day attention is elsewhere,” he said. “I used to be a crew chief when we started this team so it’s nice to get back to working on the cars and sitting on the pit box and things like that. It really reminded me of how strong our 99 group is because there are things that you take for granted, things that they do on a normal routine basis. When you have to do it for yourself, you’re reminded of how good a job they actually do.”
Benton says that he was proud of how the team ran with being a new team. They were seventh and second in the two practice sessions, before qualifying fifth.
“We were able to show strength in our organization because the 99 has run upfront a lot this year and to be able to unload another car and be able to run up front with Kenny showed a lot,” Benton commented. “It was fun to work with Kenny again. We hadn’t got to work with him since last year. It was an honor to serve as his crew chief.”
The race wouldn’t go as well as Benton had planned as they’d finished 36th due to a failure in the rear end gear.
“We had a DNF there which no team wants, which we defiantly didn’t with bringing Kenny back into the organization and his first race in 2013 being a DNF,” he commented. “We’ll get back to Charlotte and rebound from it and hopefully have a good run there.”
With one of the smaller organizations in the garage compared to the Sprint Cup Series backed organizations they are running against, Benton says that he feels proud when his guys can go out there and compete right alongside them.
“I think what we lack in budget, we make up for with the guys in heart and effort and experience,” he said. “Our guys want it bad and everybody that works here knows what we have to work with and the constraints that we’re operating in. I think running well is the best thing that can happen because it pushes the guys that much further. I think going into the season we had a goal that we wanted to try and meet. As you run and do better, those goals change, but our guys have stayed realistic in what we should do and what we want to do. At the same time, everybody is very proud to compete with the Gibbs and the Roush and the RCR cars, Penske cars. T
“hose are the cars that we’re parked in between in points so I think that says a lot for our organization, for our size to the people that we have to the budget that we have to the budget, it’s something that we can be proud of.”