Elliott Squeezes Out Top 10 Finish At Tropicana 400 While Atwood Finds His Tropicana Debut A Little Flat JOLIET, Ill., (July 15, 2001) - Thirsty for a strong finish at the inaugural Tropicana 400, Evernham Motorsports opened the day with ...
Elliott Squeezes Out Top 10 Finish At Tropicana 400 While Atwood Finds His Tropicana Debut A Little Flat
JOLIET, Ill., (July 15, 2001) - Thirsty for a strong finish at the inaugural Tropicana 400, Evernham Motorsports opened the day with Bill Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T starting fourth. Elliott finished the day at 10th, his third top-10 finish in the past five races.
Elliott was among the fastest cars all weekend, from the first practice on Thursday to the checkered flag Sunday afternoon. Racing the same car he drove to a ninth place finish at Michigan, Elliott ran most of the race with the top 15 cars, moving as high as seventh before a late-race shuffling of the field gave him a 10th place finish for the day. Elliott remains at 19th in the points race.
"That's the best I've had a car drive in awhile," said Elliott of his Dodge Intrepid R/T. "But I couldn't beat 'em down the straightaways. I don't know if we're out of drag or whatever. The track wasn't bad. It was pretty much one groove, but other than that it wasn't bad. I wanted to finish a little bit better, but coming out of here with a 10th-place finish for us is a good day. We just need to keep nipping away at it. If we can get the car driving as good as it did today and get a little more aero-wise and motor-wise, we'll be all right." Rookie Casey Atwood, driving the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, had high hopes for the day. He started 17th on the new speedway where everyone was a rookie. He battled his way up to 12th mid-race, but a cut tire cost him time in the pits and put him a lap down. He finished the day at 28th, but it was good enough to move him ahead one position in the points race to 34th. He remains third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle.
"It wasn't what we wanted today, but at least we got a top 10," said team owner Ray Evernham. "The Dodges are still struggling a bit. Our power curve just doesn't get up off the corner and that's where we got beat. We would have liked to seen a top five out of the No. 9 car, but at least we got a top 10 for Dodge. That's good. We just need to get a little bit better. The No. 19 car could have had a good day, but they just need some luck. There's nothing you can do about a flat tire. The guys are doing a good job. We've just got to get faster. It feels okay to be back down on the pit box (Evernham had spotted for Elliott the last two races). Mike Ford and the guys on the 9 team are doing fine, so I tried to help out the 19 team."
Evernham Motorsports heads to New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend for the New England 300. Ray Evernham won at New Hampshire in 1998, but Elliott has never been to victory lane at the track. ### Evernham Motorsports in the News: Evernham Motorsports may not have led the race Sunday, but they did lead the local media coverage. Ray Evernham appeared on CLTV on Tuesday night to kick off the weekend. The No. 9 team was featured in Thursday's Chicago Tribune, and the special weekend sections of the Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times showcased Elliott, Atwood and Evernham extensively. Elliott appeared on the live TNT and MRN broadcasts after his qualifying run, and Atwood appeared on RPM2Night that evening. Evernham and Elliott were the featured guests at Saturday's Winston Breakfast Club in the media center, and numerous Sunday stories featured the duo as a result. In addition, the No. 9 team was joined on Sunday by honorary pit crew member Darrien Chapman, a sports anchor with NBC Chicago. Chapman ran a five-minute story on Sunday evening about his experiences with the team.
UAW-NTC Comes to the Windy City: The UAW-National Training Center brought its fan outreach program to Chicagoland for the Tropicana 400. The interactive display, which gives fans a hands-on chance to see the No. 9 and No. 19 race cars, helps showcase the job opportunities in the automotive industry and the training the NTC provides.
"We've had great fan response all weekend and we knew it would be elbow to elbow come Sunday," said Al Benit, NASCAR operations for UAW-National Training Center. "We're glad to come out here to the inaugural event at a new track, and we're glad to be at a Dodge track. Our relationship with Dodge has been great and so we're thrilled to be doing this. We think it's important that everybody recognizes us as sponsors." ###