Veteran NASCAR racer, Norm Benning isn’t slowing down. He and his group that work on his No. 6 Chevrolet Silverado, which includes a lawyer, a real estate agent and a doctor are ramping up for a run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway.
“We’re just thrashing like everybody else. Getting ready for the season,” Benning said in an interview with TobyChristie.com.
Benning says that if everything goes to plan, he’ll run the entire 2021 season.
“That’s the plan, but you never know for sure,” Benning explained. “We’re looking for major sponsorship so we can do this thing right. So far, we haven’t landed it. So, you just never know. That’s the plan, we have three trucks and we’re going to try to do it all.”
Benning says that they are still trying to hone in on a crew chief for the season, but that call should be made very soon.
When the thought of heading to the Daytona International Speedway road course in the second week of the season came to mind, it lit a spark for the veteran racer. Benning is excited to let it all hang out on more road course events in 2021.
Benning recalled racing a BMW at Virginia International Raceway during a 24-hour Chumpcar event back in 2012.
“It was the first time in my life, each driver had their own motor home and they came and woke me up at three o’clock in the morning to go race. That was the first time in my life,” said Benning. “We were going four hour stints. It was fun.”
Last year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first-ever race on the Daytona Road Course, Benning finished 27th after starting back in 32nd.
If you’re shaking your head wondering why 27th is an impressive result, consider the resources that Benning has at his disposal from week-to-week compared to the true juggernauts in the NCWTS like GMS Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports or ThorSport Racing.
“Well, after the race truck, the most important thing is tires,” Benning stated. “They go into the race track with seven sets of tires mounted at these 1.5-mile tracks and five sets at short tracks. I can’t afford to do that. I end up with two or three sets and I have to make due.
“Right off the bat, you have one hand tied behind your back because you can’t afford to put tires on. At a 1.5-mile track, if you bolt stickers on, you’re two seconds a lap faster. It’s more of an attrition race for me most of the time, then head-to-head racing.”
Additionally, Benning’s crew is much smaller. While other teams in the Series can afford 10’s of full-time employees, Benning’s squad is built on those willing to lend a helping hand when they can.
“It’s part-time. A lot of volunteer stuff,” Benning explained. “There’s three people pretty committed and then we have people all around the country that help us depending on where we’re racing.”
However, Benning still believes firmly that if he can notch some big-time corporate sponsorship, he still has something left in the tank to showcase.
“I can tell you this, when we had Sobe (the 2001 ARCA Menards Series season), the first year we were up to third in points and ended up finishing fifth, when we had a nice budget,” Benning said. “I know what it takes, I just can’t afford it.”
When pressed about his past Sobe sponsorship, which included a beautiful paint scheme that featured green flames, Benning joyously reminisced about driving the hauler to the next track back then.
“The hauler and everything looked good,” Benning emphasized. “I used to drive down the interstate and all of the truckers would call me on the C.B. commenting about the hauler.”
What Benning currently lacks in sponsorship and resources, he has made up for in heart. People still talk about his iconic transfer from the heat race in the first-ever NASCAR Truck Series Dirt Derby at Eldora back in 2013. By beating and banging his way into the main event, Benning turned into a Twitter cult icon and it boosted his Facebook following tremendously.
But Benning is ready to write a new chapter.
“I had over 10,000 [Facebook] followers,” Benning said. “I don’t know where it’s at right now. But yeah, it’s pretty huge. A lot of it stems from Eldora, which, god I’d like to write a new chapter. Do something else, you know?”
What does the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season hold for Norm Benning and his Norm Benning Racing team? That remains to be seen. But if he can find a little luck in the sponsorship hunt, perhaps we can be treated to another magical Norm moment or two this season.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.