Atwood Pocono preview

Atwood Returns To Pocono To Finish Race LONG POND, Penn. (July 24, 2001)- Casey Atwood's first race at Pocono Raceway started strong. He ran as high as fifth on the unique three-turn track, but finished early when his engine blew. Now, ...

Atwood Returns To Pocono To Finish Race

LONG POND, Penn. (July 24, 2001)- Casey Atwood's first race at Pocono Raceway started strong. He ran as high as fifth on the unique three-turn track, but finished early when his engine blew. Now, Evernham Motorsports' rookie driver is looking forward to going back to Pocono to finish what he began.

He comes off a great race at New Hampshire where he led 13 laps, the first time he has been at the front of the pack in NASCAR Winston Cup. He finished 12th for the day, tying his season-highest finish.

Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T

What's your outlook on returning to Pocono?

"We should have had a top 10 at Pocono last time. We were running in the top five there and we just had a lot of bad luck. The race team is very capable of getting top 10s. We've just got to keep working at it and go on. We're taking the same car back to Pocono, and we've got a good starting spot with the setup we had there last time. We'll put exactly what we ended up with last time in the car and try to make it better from there. We felt like we could have made the car a little better last time in the race, so we'll go from there and see what happens.

"I don't see too many changes for this trip to Pocono. The track should stay pretty much the same. I felt like I got a hold of it last time. After testing there for two days, I think we got it pretty good. We've got a good setup to put in the car; we just need to run better.

"You've just got to put yourself in a position to win. You've got to have the car that can beat a lot of great teams. If you don't have that perfect race then someone else will. I know we can do it, we just need to put it all together. Everybody is really excited about Pocono because that was really our best run this year (despite finishing 38th with engine problems). You've just got to keep the team pumped up and keep doing good."

What are your thoughts on having led laps last week in New Hampshire?

"I wish I could have been up there passing for the lead instead of having it on a pit stop sequence, but it still was good. We got our five bonus points and it felt good to lead. We would have been in a lot better shape if we hadn't pitted, but we came back from it and got a good finish anyway.

"It didn't look like we were going to have a good day, but we came back and stayed strong and didn't give up. We got a good finish, and everybody seemed to be real happy about it. I know I was real happy about it. Maybe we can kick it up a notch and be even happier after Pocono."

Casey Atwood By the Numbers:

* This marks the third time Atwood has run at Pocono. He qualified 12th in his first visit to the track in June, but suffered engine problems and finished 38th. He tested there this summer, too. Because Pocono Raceway does not host Busch Grand National Series races, Atwood never ran at the track prior to this year.

* Atwood's 13 laps led at New Hampshire last weekend were the first of his Winston Cup career. He led laps 219-231, pitted and lost a lap, then worked his way back on the lead lap and finished 12th, matching his best performance of the season.

* For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier four times (Texas, Martinsville, Pocono and Daytona) and the top rookie finisher twice (Bristol and Richmond). His best finish for the year includes 12th places finishes at both Richmond and New Hampshire. He ranks 34th in the points race and is third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle. His average start is 22.6 and his average finish is 27.7.

-EM-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Atwood