Johnny Benson only wants one present this Christmas. It's one that would make it a very merry one for him, and that's for a sponsor for the 2010 season.
It's been a tough 2009 season for Johnny Benson, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and his attempt to defend his championship.
For Benson, June turned into a horrible month. First came the shocking news he had lost his ride with Red Horse Racing due to lack of funding.
Then if that wasn't bad enough, five days later, Benson was involved in a horrific wreck at Berlin Raceway while competing in a Super Modified race.
Benson would end up hospitalized, suffering multiple fractures, a separated shoulder, bruised lungs, and third degree burns on one elbow.
Fortunately for Benson, the first responders to his wreck basically saved his life, and the safety features on his car did their intended job.
On the road to recovery, Benson needed two separate surgeries, to repair his shoulder and collarbone surgically and the other to deal with his burned elbow.
Benson spent the remainder of the season recuperating from his injuries and smartly didn't rush to get back on the track.
He does have a clean bill of health from his doctors.
Even at 46, Benson never doubted for one minute that his racing career could continue, and the good news is he's currently working for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The hitch is he needs a sponsor that would enable him to drive the third entry for KBM full-time in 2010.
They have been close to getting it done, having two potential deals fall through, but maybe the third time's the charm for KBM and Benson.
"It's funny because it's the first surgery I've ever had and there was a lot of stuff that went wrong [and had to be fixed]," Benson recently said.
"I know how to fix race cars; these guys [at Kyle Busch Motorsports] all know how to work on and fix race cars. When you wreck one bad enough; you either save it or you don't."
"Well, on yourself, there is only one way to do it: you have to save it, obviously. It just amazing what the doctors can do and what they can fix—and really, with in the matter of a couple of months, get you right back to where you were."
Busch had hoped to have sponsor lined up prior to his press conference announcing his new team on Dec. 11, but was unable to secure one and they are still working on obtaining one.
"I'd love to get JB in a truck, man," Busch said.
"I'm trying so hard to get Johnny in a truck ride because that guy needs to be in the series. Winning a championship and then falling out of a ride last year due to funding, I mean that just sucks."
While both are hopeful a sponsor can be found, there are no guarantees these days, with the economy and it doesn't matter that you're a former champion.
You don't have to look outside of KBM to realize this: take his teammate, Tayler Malsam. He's a 20-year-old coming off of a very impressive rookie season, but he has a sponsor's backing.
Regardless if he drives, Busch still hopes he'll stick around to help mentor his two young drivers, Malsam and Brian Ickler, and bring them along.
It's something that the wily veteran Benson is willing to do, he's excited to do, but given the choice, Benson would rather be out their racing competitively in the trucks.
"I wouldn't have agreed to come into this deal if I didn't think it was a great opportunity. I think it will be for these young guys—and I think it will be for me to go and try to run for a championship, if we can make that happen with a third truck," Benson said.
"It's like anything else. Funding is what controls this sport. It didn't years ago, but it does now. And we know we've got just a little bit more to go to be able to make things happen. Hopefully, we can do that by next month."
It's just going to take one company or someone with deep pockets who has the faith to believe in the wily veteran and stick their brand on his truck.
Now since Busch wants him to hang around even if no sponsor is found to help mentor Malsam and Ickler, I'm wondering if Busch and his director of competition Rick Ren, gave a thought to making JB, Malsam's crew chief if no sponsor is found.
It's a no-brainer that JB would make a great crew chief. It gets him back into the series and just think what he could teach both Malsam and Ickler.
I'm sure his army of fans would be just excited to see him back in Trucks, even if it was on top of a pit wagon leading the crew of tremendous young talented Malsam.
Oh trust me, I'd love to see JB back driving challenging Horn for another title, but I'll be just as happy to see on top of a pit wagon and mentoring two young promising drivers.
Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, that Santa is good to you and stay warm.
Source for quotes: nascar.com
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