DaimlerChrysler Employees Cheer The First Winning Dodge Driver AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (August 20, 2001) - After a 24-year absence, Dodge found its way back to Victory Lane in NASCAR Winston Cup, racing like it had never been away. And the ...
DaimlerChrysler Employees Cheer The First Winning Dodge Driver
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (August 20, 2001) - After a 24-year absence, Dodge found its way back to Victory Lane in NASCAR Winston Cup, racing like it had never been away. And the employees of DaimlerChrysler's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters were ready to celebrate.
Dodge's first win in its return to NASCAR Winston Cup came at the hands of Sterling Marlin, driving the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T for Chip Ganassi Racing. Marlin outran fellow Dodge driver Bill Elliott, in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, and Ricky Craven, in the No. 32 Tide car, to take the checkered flag in the Pepsi 400 at DaimlerChrysler's hometown racetrack, Michigan Speedway. There were four Dodge Intrepid R/Ts among the top 10 - Marlin in first, Elliott in third, Blaney in sixth and Atwood in 10th - giving Dodge its best overall finish of the season.
After his trip to Victory Lane, Marlin visited DaimlerChrysler World Headquarters to celebrate his win with the automaker's employees. The team was welcomed by Chrysler Group President and CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche, along with DaimlerChrysler executives, dealers and more than 2,200 employees. Many turned out for the celebration in the CTC Tech Plaza wearing the colors of their favorite NASCAR Winston Cup driver. Marlin was joined by team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, team managers Tony Glover and Andy Graves and crew chief Lee McCall.
"What a race day," said Zetsche. "It was the best race I've ever been present at. You could feel it, you could smell it in the air, it was Dodge's day. We were strong all day. It's great to be back racing, and it's great to be back in the winner's circle."
Chip Ganassi, with team partner Felix Sabates, was thrilled with the day, even though he missed the race due to a CART event - in which one of his two teams won their first victory.
"It's an honor to bring Dodge its first win," said Ganassi, who also celebrated his first Winston Cup win since joining as an owner this season. "It takes a huge team effort to put a car in the winner's circle. Dodge has really raised the bar for a motorsports program with this effort. But, you don't have a team without a great driver, and we have one. He's knocked on the door all year and finally broke through."
Ganassi introduced Marlin, who received rousing applause from the audience.
"It's great to be back in the winner's circle," said Marlin of his first victory since 1996. "It's hard to do without great guys in the shop, a great sponsor like Coors and the support of Dodge. Hopefully, we'll win some more races and be at the Waldorf-Astoria in December. I'd like to thank three great guys who made this win happen - Lee McCall, Tony Glover and Andy Graves. They made great calls all day."