WATKINS GLEN, NY, (August 7, 2001)- Despite making his first Winston Cup Series visit to the winding asphalt of Watkins Glen, Casey Atwood will be returning to familiar grounds this weekend at the Global Crossing @ the Glen. Atwood has raced at...
WATKINS GLEN, NY, (August 7, 2001)- Despite making his first Winston Cup Series visit to the winding asphalt of Watkins Glen, Casey Atwood will be returning to familiar grounds this weekend at the Global Crossing @ the Glen.
Atwood has raced at the track twice in his Busch Series career and says he likes it a little better than the curves he raced for the first time at Sears Point in June. He hopes he can add a strong qualifying and solid finish at the track to his improving record this year.
Atwood is coming off a great -but short - performance in his first run in the Brickyard 400. The driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T qualified a career high third place. Atwood moved to second early in the race, and had one of the strongest cars in the field, but was forced to retire after sustaining radiator damage early in the race.
Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
What do you think about your first race at Watkins Glen?
"I've raced two Busch races at Watkins Glen. The first year we had a transmission problem. The second year, we finished 12th. It's fun, but road course racing is something I'm not used to. There's obviously a lot better road course drivers out there than me, but it's fun. If you can get hold of the track and learn it, it really can be fun. A lot of people end up going off course, and if you can just stay on all day you'll get a pretty good finish.
How important is track position and pit strategy this weekend?
"Track position is everything on a road course, and it's really hard to pass. There will be a lot of different pit calls. People are going to be taking two tires, no tires, it's just all who's up front at the end. Qualifying is going to be really important. If you can get up front there it means a lot because it's so hard to pass. Track position, if you can get up front on a pit stop, that's what usually wins the race. I'd say you could do it on three pit stops. There may be more than that depending on the cautions.
Do you see any similarities between Watkins Glen and Sears Point?
"Watkins Glen and Sears Point are a lot different to me. Sears Point just felt like it didn't have any grip. It's just old I guess. Watkins Glen looks a little newer, the track surface does. It's got a lot more grip on the track. It's basically what you're used to. I've been to Watkins Glen a couple of times, so I guess I'm more used to it. Maybe I'll feel more comfortable at Sears Point next year.
"You can pass at Watkins Glen. If your car is fast, you can always pass. You can out brake 'em getting in the corners or get under them coming out. There's just certain spots on the track known as passing places. There's more places to pass at Watkins Glen than Sears Point. You're always turning at Sears Point. There's no straightaways at all. It's hard to pass there.
"Those tracks are both road courses, but they're not similar. I think the main thing that's going to help me at Watkins Glen is that I've been there a couple of times. I'm pretty familiar with the track. Maybe we learned some stuff on the car that will help us a little bit over there, but the main thing is I've been there a couple of times.
What are you doing to prepare for Watkins Glen?
"We tested at a road course in Virginia and it kind of got us back in that road course mode. The crew had been practicing with their backward pit stops and all. We just shook down our car. We drove it around and saw it didn't have any vibrations. We tried three sets of shocks to see which set I like the feel of the most. The track was just way too tight, too small to make any changes to the car. They had a second of it closed for a Super Bike test, so we didn't really have a chance to get up to speed."
Casey Atwood By the Numbers:
*This will be Atwood's first Winston Cup Series visit to Watkins Glen. He has raced at the track twice in the Busch Series prior to this year. He earned his best finish at the track, 12th, in the 2000 Lysol 200.
*In his last five races, Atwood has qualified in the top five starting positions three times (fourth at Daytona, fifth at Pocono, and a career high third place starting spot at Indianapolis). All were earned on 2.5-mile tracks.
*Atwood led 13 laps at New Hampshire - the first of his Winston Cup career. He ran second at Indianapolis this weekend behind teammate Bill Elliott, a feat he also accomplished earlier this year at Talladega.
*For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier six times -- Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Daytona and Indianapolis -- and the top rookie finisher three times -- Bristol, Richmond and Pocono (second race). Currently he ranks 33rd in the points race and third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle. His average start is 20.75 and his average finish is 27.75.