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DATE News (chronologically)
04/18/09
Racing News
Johnny Benson Day 2 Pro Celebrity race diary
Carlos Mencia (Mind of Mencia)Johnny Benson (C) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24)
Well, we’re two days through the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and it’s been great. Today we went out for our first practice on the streets and we saw a little bit of everything. We didn’t even get a chance to take the green flag before we came around a corner and there was a car upside down against the wall and I was thinking it was going to be a long day. But they got that cleaned up and we were able to get a little practice time and get ready for qualifying.

This place is tricky. It’s fast and it’s very narrow in spots. I ended up qualifying second overall with Al Unser Jr. in first. Let me tell you, when you come to Long Beach and can be anywhere near Al on this track, it’s been a great day. He only won the Toyota Grand Prix Indy car race here six times! All in all, in coming to a track where I’ve never been to and run as well as we have, I’m really pleased. Al’s got us covered by a little right now, but come race day anything can happen.

One big thing to remember for tomorrow is that the professional drivers start the race 30 seconds behind the celebrities. It’s just a 10-lap race, so it’s going to be hard as we’ll have to gain three seconds per lap just to catch them. I don’t think we can do it without a caution. But I do think we can get up there and get close to the front. We’ll have to deal with traffic as quickly as we can and a lot of that is simply going to be in the timing of when you catch people.

The guy to beat overall is still going to be X-Games star Danny Way, the skateboarder who won the celebrity pole. Danny’s actually jumped over the Great Wall of China on a skateboard, so he’s certainly not intimidated by the walls here in Long Beach.

Off the track, everything has been great. All of the celebrities have been extremely nice. I’m having a lot of fun and really enjoying our time. Just to get some time to sit down and talk with them has been very cool. To see all the stars of some of our favorite TV shows has been great. We’re big fans of ‘Private Practice’ with Tim Daly, that’s just a great show; and ‘24’ with Mary Lynn Rajskub and Eric Close in “Without a Trace”. We watch all those shows and we’ll make sure to watch even more now that we’ve gotten to know the personalities behind them.

This has definitely been an experience to remember. I look forward to getting back to the team and telling them all the stories. I’ve already been name-dropping a little with the guys, telling them about all the people I’ve met and how down to earth and pleasant they’ve been. In the end, I guess we’re all just normal people with some pretty cool jobs.

Well, tomorrow’s race day. Everything’s been great here so far and I’m having a lot of fun, but I know when the green flag falls, the competitiveness is going to come out.

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