Local race team jumping into NASCAR Cup Series

CERRO GORDO — Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises announced today that the team will be jumping to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. David Gilliland has rejoined the team to pilot the No. 92 Black’s Tire and Auto Service/Carquest Auto Parts/Ford Fusion.

RBR has spent the past eight seasons competing in 79 races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on a part-time basis. Gilliland drove for the team for seven races in 2015. Plans for the RBR’s 2018 NCWTS schedule have not been finalized.

Mike Hester will serve as crew chief in both series. The team will continue its long-running relationship with Roush Yates Engines to provide power plants for their Fords.

“After talking with our partners, we felt the time was right to make a move into the Cup Series,” said team owner Ricky Benton. “Getting David (Gilliland) back on board was also key. Having a veteran driver with his experience and success on restrictor-plate tracks – with whom Hester has familiarity – gives us a leg up as we try to make the race.

“I am thankful for Roush Yates , Carquest , Highland Construction and the entire Black’s Tire family (Benton owns Black’s Tire, which operates four BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors Wholesale Centers, servicing more than 200 BTS partner program dealers, Carolina Retreads and 46 retail/commercial locations in the Carolinas) for going racing with us.”

Based in Cerro Gordo, N.C. (pop. 199), RBR is bringing with it a history of success in stock car racing to the Daytona 500. At the 2.5-mile “World Center of Racing,” RBR has two third-place and two sixth-place finishes in six starts in the NCWTS. Prior to joining the truck series, RBR competed extensively in late models and other series, winning the 1998 NASCAR Winston Racing Series Atlantic Seaboard championship as well as the 2002 USAR Hooters ProCup title.

“Ricky is a great guy and a real racer,” said Gilliland. “I really appreciate the faith he has put in me to drive his first MENCS attempt. Having worked with (crew chief) Mike (Hester) before, I know he has done everything needed to give us a competitive car to go out and qualify and race well at Daytona.

“I think we have a chance to go out and surprise some people.”

No. 92 car will debut at Daytona