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I watched a Dorian Yates video yesterday about chest training and he said it was fine as long as you are getting a full stretch at the bottom.

Control the negative and explode upwards
 

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I think just going as low as you comfortably can is good enough, although depends upon what muscles you are targetting. The lower part of a bench press is mostly pecs and the upper part mostly triceps... when doing close grip benches for tris I stop about 4-5 inches above my chest, when working pecs I touch right down.
 

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I stop the weight on my chest for a two second count then press it back up.

If you have issues with flexability on Barbell Bench switch to Dumbell for a month or two.
 
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I too stop an inch above, it feels like my rip cage is splitting at that point so I know I'm getting a good stretch.

I also lower slowly an explode back up.

I loose the tension if I lower to chest an feel my back, delts an tris working more.
 
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