Sunday, April 1, 2001. Texas Motor Speedway. Harrah's 500 CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I got loose inside the 92 car and slid up, and it looks like I got a little help after that. We weren't doing too bad. We had a...
Sunday, April 1, 2001. Texas Motor Speedway. Harrah's 500
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I got loose inside the 92 car and slid up, and it looks like I got a little help after that. We weren't doing too bad. We had a good run going. We'd been a little tight all day. That was the last thing I was expecting, to get loose under him. I thought I had it saved and got hit from behind. It tore up the car pretty bad. The air works real funny here, and I got the air taken off the spoiler and got loose. I feel bad for everybody else that got involved in it. It probably shouldn't have happened, but we had started racing for position. The track was pretty good. We were really tight all day and got behind early. We came back and got up in the top 20. We were looking for a good day. I thought we could have been 16th or 17th today, but it didn't work out for us. The Dodges are strong cars. We've just got to work on 'em. This is the first year, and they're pretty strong for a first-year car right now." DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Blaney finished 22nd last year at Texas as a rookie. He started dead last Sunday and finished sixth to lead the way for Dodge. It was Blaney's best career finish in 46 starts. He passed 27 cars in the first 24 laps. "We had trouble in the pits. I got together with Ken Schrader early in the race and busted the front end up and couldn't go. We were really fast on the first run in the race. Then we struggled and got a lap down. Then I got back up in the top 10 and got together with Rusty in the pits and fell back to 16th again. We had a fast car. I thought we were real good there at the end, but we faded the last five laps. "We were pitting pretty close to Rusty, and he was inside of me and wasn't expecting me to turn into my pit I guess. It cost us a lot. We took two tires on the last pit stop and we pumped the tires up. It was good for a few laps and the last five it gave away. It was more of a momentum race car, so if the track was there, I needed to use it. We had a good car. We just smashed the front end in on one pit stop and it started pushing bad. It didn't have any down force. We had the car if we could just get position, and we did there at the end. "I felt like we had a top-five car at Atlanta, too, and just didn't get the finish. It looked like we could do better than sixth today, but we'll take what we can get. This was our Atlanta car, and we never got it turning quite good enough, but it was pretty close. You've got time in these races if the car is fast enough, and it was fast enough today. I feel bad that we lined up fifth on that restart with 20 to go and couldn't take advantage of it. It was a good finish. We needed a little boost in the points. We were fair all the way through today. "You can only do what your car will do. We've got a nice car for this kind of track. We've got a nice engine combination, a nice body, and we get it pretty close." DAREN WOLFE (Front Tire Changer No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Wolfe, 39, is an Orlando, Fla., native who now lives in Mooresville, N.C. He was hit in the pits and was complaining of pain in his left ankle. "I haven't been hit that since I played football at Jones High School in Orlando. My whole left side hit, but my ankle is the only thing bothering me. It got my ankle right up under the front valence of the 2 car. He was being smart by not moving until I got it out. The 2 car tried to pinch the 93 out so he couldn't get to his stall quick enough. The 93 just took the 2 on down into me. I've been doing this 11 years. I started out with Bahari Racing, then I went to Larry Hedrich. Then I went to Robert Yates and now I'm here. This is fun. I've just got to get straightened out now." STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin started 37th and worked his way to the front, but an accident on lap 280 relegated Marlin to a 34th-place finish and dropped him from third to fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. "Todd Bodine got me from behind. We had just told his spotter for him to be patient because we had to get passed the slow cars on the restart. Then Rusty comes in and knocks out half our pit crew guys, and they don't penalize him. It's crazy. We took a big hit in the points, but that's what happens when you go up against a bunch of idiots. We've got a lot of racing left, but when stuff like this happens, it's frustrating." STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We got a lap down early, and we just couldn't ever get it back. We fought and fought all day. We stayed there, but we just couldn't ever get it back. Our car stayed tight all day. We had a good car, but we couldn't get any lapped cars to work with us. We were a lap down, and they were six or seven down. They wouldn't let us go by. When you're that far back in line, you can't get a run on 'em. It was a good day for us. We'll take it, but I sure wish we could have got back on the lead lap and give them guys a run for their money. "We ran times capable of running with the top 10 all day, but we just started too far back and got a lap down early. We kept adjusting. We had a good car and everything we did worked. We just came up a little short. "We're all coming together as a team. We're slowly figuring out what these Dodges need, and the team is working good together. We've got a lot of work to do on our pit stops. We had bad pit stops all day long. We just can't keep having them. Once we get that worked out and get to working together just a little better and figure out what these things need, I think we'll be there. "It's hard to get out on the cell phones here, so I haven't talked to (regular crew chief Chad Knaus) him yet. I know he hated not to be down here with us, but preparing makes a big difference. When our cars come to the track now, they're prepared good. That makes a big difference. Dean Johnson (fill-in crew chief) has done a great job. He's always done a great job with Chad. They compliment each other. Dean did a good job today. He made some good calls in the pits. He adjusted on the car all day and it got better. That's the sign of a pretty good crew chief." JASON LEFFLER (No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Leffler failed to qualify last week at Bristol. He finished 17th Sunday, his best finish of his rookie season. "That gives us something to build on. Our car was really good at the end of the race. Through the middle we struggled, and in that first wreck we bent the valence up. That got us behind, but we're getting better and better. I wish we hadn't had that trouble in the beginning, but we're learning." BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"At first we were pretty bad, but the guys kept working on it and working on it and working on it and we kept getting better and better and better. I don't usually have any luck at this place. I don't know if it was luck that kept me out of all the crashes or if I just couldn't run fast enough to be in 'em. I mean, I was close. You've just got to get through the race. You've got to race smart. Today helps set us up for Martinsville. We've got to keep plugging away and do what we need to do to get in good shape." WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be. We wrecked in Happy Hour Saturday and didn't get a lot of practice, but the team did a good job fixing the car. We worked on it all day today, and got it running pretty good toward the end of the race. Dave (teammate Blaney) had a good run, so congratulations to him. We'll keep working and get 'em next week at Martinsville." JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I knew something was wrong with the engine from the start. We really never figured out what was wrong, but it's disappointing. We'd had two good finishes the past two races (sixth at Darlington and second last week at Bristol), and everyone was optimistic we could keep it going. We had some problems in qualifying, and we thought we had a shot at a real good starting spot. It was just a long weekend. I'm looking forward to Martinsville next week."