Atwood Richmond II preview

RICHMOND, Virg., (September 4, 2001) - Casey Atwood will travel to Richmond International Raceway this weekend riding on the experience he has gained in two Winston Cup starts at the three-quarter mile track. ...

RICHMOND, Virg., (September 4, 2001) - Casey Atwood will travel to Richmond International Raceway this weekend riding on the experience he has gained in two Winston Cup starts at the three-quarter mile track.

Atwood made his first splash in Winston Cup Series racing last year when he brought home a top 20 finish at Richmond's fall race under the guidance of Ray Evernham. His early season 2001 performance at the track proved that the rookie was well on his way to learning the fast lines around the track in his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, as he rocketed from a 42nd place provisional start to a then season-high 12th place finish.

This weekend proves a culminating point for Atwood, who has shown that a little experience can go a long way. In the season's second stretch, Atwood has earned back-to-back top five qualifying spots and a several top rookie finishes (his most recent, a career-high 10th place finish at Michigan). As they head back to Richmond. Atwood and the No. 19 "Dew Crew" are looking to improve on their strong runs at the oval raceway.

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

What is driving at Richmond like for you?

"I like Richmond. It fits my driving style. I like the short tracks and places like Richmond because I grew up driving on these kinds of tracks. I feel like I have a little experience here too because I used to come here twice a year in the Busch Series and we were here last year in the Cup car and earlier this year too. We finished pretty well each time. I really feel like I know my way around the track."

Is there anything special that comes with racing at Richmond?

"Not only do I like driving at Richmond, I like coming to Richmond. One of my best friends, Kevin Grubb (driver in the Busch Series) lives in Richmond, so we usually go out to dinner and all that. He knows the good restaurants and places to go so we usually hang out when I come here."

How was your run at Darlington? You had a lot going on.

"It was a big weekend with Mountain Dew. They sponsored the race and the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge had a special Mountain Dew paint scheme so that was cool. We weren't too bad during the race. We got caught on a pit stop when the caution came out and that cost us, but the Dew Crew worked really hard to make the car better. We never gave up the whole time."

* This will be Atwood's third Winston Cup Series visit to Richmond International Raceway. In Richmond's May race, Atwood moved from a 42nd place provisional start to an impressive 12th place finish. He began his Winston Cup career at Richmond, one of three races he ran in 2000 for Ray Evernham. He also competed five Busch races at Richmond International Raceway, with a best start of 6th and a best finish of 8th.

* Atwood had his first top 10 of the season at Michigan's Pepsi 400, matching his career best. Atwood finished 10th at Homestead last year in only his third Winston Cup Series start.

* In his last six races, Atwood has qualified in the top 10 starting positions three times (sixth at Michigan, fifth at Pocono, and a career-high third place starting spot at Indianapolis). All positions were earned on track lengths of two miles or greater.

* Atwood led 13 laps at New Hampshire - the first of his Winston Cup career. He ran second at Indianapolis behind teammate Bill Elliott, a feat he also accomplished earlier this year at Talladega.

* For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier seven times -- Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Daytona, Indianapolis and Michigan's second race. Atwood has been the top rookie finisher four times -- Bristol, Richmond, Pocono (second race) and Michigan (second race). He remains 31st in the points race and continues to gain ground in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle where he ranks third. His average start is 21st and his average finish is 26th.

-em

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Casey Atwood , Kevin Grubb , Ray Evernham