Bill Elliott And Casey Atwood Attempted To Conquer The Monster Mile
DOVER, Del. (September 23, 2001)-An emotional day filled with American flags and patriotic songs kicked off Sunday's running of the MBNA Cal Ripken, Jr. 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway. Casey Atwood brought home his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge in a season's best ninth place. Bill Elliott, making his 650th career start, got caught in an incident early on but managed to finish 30th.
Atwood, who started the day 18th, successfully battled for track position early in the caution filled race. The Dew Crew made adjustments throughout the day to keep Atwood's Dodge Intrepid R/T running up front. His Winston Cup career best finish moved the Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender into 30th place in driver's points.
"I'm real happy with it," said Atwood. "It was kind of an up and down day. We started off and we weren't too good. Then we ended up sixth or seventh and fell back again. At the end of the race the car started to come back again. We were able to come back and get a ninth-place finish and we're happy with it."
Elliott guaranteed that he would get his 650th career start when he qualified 10th for the 400-lap race, matching his average starting position at Dover (10). He and the No. 9 crew saw his memorable day ruined by an incident less than 25 laps into the race. The No. 9 crew worked throughout the race to keep Elliott's Dodge Intrepid R/T on the track, enabling him to extend his streak of races without a DNF to 32. Elliott's finish keeps him in 13th place in driver's points.
"I couldn't help it," said Elliott. "I just busted my butt and got into Bobby Labonte. I hate that it happened. I told him I was sorry, but that doesn't help too much now. It wasn't that slick. I just did something I shouldn't be doing. On the positive side, the crew did a good job keeping us in the race, and we've still got our streak of no DNFs. It wasn't a bad finish considering."
Like many race teams, the cars of Evernham Motorsports were outfitted with special decals to honor the country and the many who lost their lives in the national tragedy on September 11. "United We Stand" was printed underneath an American flag on a decal that was placed on the b-posts of Evernham Motorsports cars. Evernham Motorsports also chose to display the stickers distributed to Winston Cup teams honoring the city of New York. In addition, the UAW/National Training Centers used their space on the No. 9 and No. 19 deck lids to display an American flag decal.
"A NASCAR event in all that it encompasses; the racing of American cars, the surrounding atmosphere and the following community, is a large slice of the American pie," said Tim Bressler and Al Benit, UAW National Training Center NASCAR Operations. "The events this weekend carried more emotion than the usual NASCAR race. We are honored to be able to substitute the NTC decal on the deck lids with the American flag alongside the UAW wheel."
EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS IN THE NEWS: The events in our country over the course of the past two weeks weighed heavily on the minds of the NASCAR community, including the media throughout the race weekend. Ray Evernham took part in a round table discussion with prominent NASCAR drivers to discuss the impact of these events on the sport and in on our community. The event was hosted by NBC reporter Bill Weber and was scheduled to air following the race. Bill Elliott was also the invited guest of the media at Saturday's Winston breakfast. Elliott discussed the events of the past few weeks as well as his 650th career start. Casey Atwood did an interview with the local paper during an autograph signing for the Kent County Visitor's Bureau. Atwood and Evernham also did interviews for Winston Cup Illustrated on Atwood's experience as a rookie in the Winston Cup Series.
SPONSOR NEWS: With air travel still an issue in our country, there were few VIPS in attendance for the race weekend. However, the UAW had several visiting guests who were treated to the excitement of the weekend's activities. Invited guests of Mountain Dew also enjoyed a meeting with Casey Atwood and Ray Evernham at the No. 19 hauler.