Sirius Satellite Radio 400 Media Day Highlights. Michigan International Speedway. CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I think when everything first started, all the Dodge teams were working real hard to get the...
Sirius Satellite Radio 400 Media Day Highlights.
Michigan International Speedway.
CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I think when everything first started, all the Dodge teams were working real hard to get the engine developed and get the body developed and all the wind tunnel time. As far as the Dodge coming out, everybody did work together. Now when you get to the track, and you've got setups in the cars, teams keep that to themselves a lot of times, but everybody did work well getting the Dodge developed.
"Sterling (Marlin) doesn't need any help here. He does fine, but it is a big weekend for us. We came out and tested because it is such a big weekend for us. We got rained out the first day, but it was pretty much perfect weather the second day and we got a full day of testing. It's exciting to see all the Sirius Satellite Radio banners at the track. Nobody is going to miss it. Hopefully we can have a good race Sunday and come away with a good finish.
"The main difference in testing and going out there racing is that you'll have 42 cars out there with you. That's a lot different. We thought our car was really good here testing, but we didn't have anybody to compare it off of. The track is always different when you come back on race weekend because you've got rubber on the track and there's going to be a race before our race, but our Dodge was real comfortable and we feel like we're going to have a good run.
"We've got a group called Soluna on the hood this weekend. We're promoting them, and they'll be at the track putting on a concert. Some exciting stuff is going on this weekend, and we're going to have some fun with it.
"You've got to have a great car here. I've been here several times, and I've never run good at all. Last August, we finished 10th, and I don't feel like I changed anything. I just feel like I got a car that handled good and had a good crew and we were able to run good with the package we had.. It's a difficult track. The turns are so long, you've got to have your car set up well. I wrecked here the first time I came here because our car was so loose. You're in the corner here longer than you are anywhere else, so you can't be loose.
"Dad and I started out in go-karts just for fun. We started traveling the country racing in a series called the WKA. I think they have an 8-12 class and a 13-16 class. I got out of that when I was 14 and started racing locally. I started racing stock cars back home and that's as far as we thought we'd ever go. Luckily there was a Busch Series team in Nashville that didn't have a driver at the time. They came down to the speedway in Nashville and asked me to do it. That's all it took. We ran pretty good in the first race and in our sixth race together we qualified on the pole and finished second. That got me going and got my first Busch ride. It takes a lot of luck. You've got to get racing in something and then hope somebody sees you. We had a friend that raced go-karts and I didn't even know anything about them. He started racing and we went and watched him one weekend. I told my dad I'd really like to have one. I was always big into watching racing, but the next week, he bought me one and we were down there racing the next week. Dad was very big into it, too. He's just as excited as I am about it.
"We did struggle a lot and we've been going through a lot of people. We got Tony Furr to come over and help us and it's really turned around. Ever since he's come we've had top 10 cars. We haven't had the finishes to show for it, but little stuff has been happening. We've been really strong and the team is getting a lot better. I think we can win our first race this year.
"I got prepared for Winston Cup by running Busch. There's a lot more pressure up here, but you're where you wanted to be since you were a little kid. There's a lot more pressure to do well, but I've got a lot of good people around me who are being real patient. We're just trying to grow together. We know we'll get there. It's just taken us a little longer than we expected it to.
"I never had a problem (with success). I've been real close to my family and they help me out and try to guide me in the right way. They help me out with business stuff. If it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't be able to do it. Dad comes to every race with me and he takes a lot of pressure off me and I just stay focused on racing. When you get in the race car, you're able to focus 100 percent. My dad hasn't missed a race since I was 10 years old. He's just a father who's real proud of his son. He just likes to watch and help me out with what I need help with. I just bought a house about a month ago. I'm still living with him (father, Terry Atwood) right now. I haven't moved out yet. I stayed close. I'm just right down the street.
"Normally you have to leave on Thursday to come to the race track and you get home on Sunday night. Normally you get Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at home unless you've got to test or something else. That's part of what goes into Winston Cup racing and you know that when you come in. We get seven tests a year, so normally you can get three days a week at home.
"We just want to have a good race Sunday. We've been running good, and if we can get a top five Sunday and maybe have a shot to win, it would be a good weekend for us. It didn't take Tony Furr long to make a difference for this team. We've had a top 10 car ever since he's been with us. We had some little problems we need to work out, but it's just taken a little while to get the right chemistry in there. It just depends on how you communicate with each other, and Tony and I hit it off right off the bat. After one practice session we were seeing eye to eye and that's what it takes. He's got to understand what you're saying so he can fix the car.
"Sunday is Father's Day, and I haven't thought about that. It would be good to come out of here with a win on Father's Day. My father really helps me take care of the business side. I don't understand a lot of that. He's been in the electrical business 25 years, so he knows about business and he helps me out with it.
"I think Jeff Gordon set the stage for car owners to start looking at younger drivers. A couple of young drivers have come in and won some races, but I think the veteran drivers have still got a big advantage. You've got to know how to be there all day and make adjustments on the car. Just being there at the end.... I've been there. We had the car to beat a couple of times last year and made rookie mistakes and ended up getting passed in the end. I still think the veterans have a little bigger advantage.
"I knew Sterling and Bobby Hamilton, but I watched Winston Cup races since I was seven years old. My favorite was Darrell Waltrip, and I never got to race with him because he retired before I got started. I remember my first Busch Series race. I went to Rockingham in '98 and qualified 14th. Mark Martin was starting right behind me. It's pretty cool getting to race a guy you'd watched all your life."