ATLANTA (November 13, 2001) - It doesn't get much better for a 21-year-old rookie than contending for a visit to Victory Lane in the Winston Cup Series, but that's what Casey Atwood did last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Atwood also barely...
ATLANTA (November 13, 2001) - It doesn't get much better for a 21-year-old rookie than contending for a visit to Victory Lane in the Winston Cup Series, but that's what Casey Atwood did last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Atwood also barely missed earning his second Bud Pole of the year. Determined to add to his growing list of accomplishments on the track, Atwood heads to Atlanta with knowledge gained from a recent test session, seeking some retribution from the track that brought his only DNS of 2001.
Atwood's run in the last three races includes his first pole and first top five finish in a Winston Cup race. He also has been the top qualifying and top finishing Raybestos Rookie in three consecutive races. He has jumped from 33rd to 26th in the points standings and has led 124 laps - all in his last three performances.
While Atwood remains red-hot in his No. 19 Dodge, Atlanta is a track where Atwood is eager to show what he's learned since his last visit. He can continue his streak, gaining points in the championship race and Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings as he tackles the 1.54-mile oval in one of the last races of the year.
Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T You tested at Atlanta. Did you learn anything that will help you this weekend?
"I think we definitely learned some things that will help us. We tested in Miami and that definitely helped us out last weekend. We took two cars when we tested Atlanta and we drove them both so that should help us all this weekend. We concentrated on qualifying trim mostly. That's what we worried about all year with us being a new team. We were worried about making sure we made the races so that's what we really worked on."
Talk about your run at Homestead. You guys had a good run and had a chance to win.
"I know. I thought we had it, but I'm awfully happy for Bill and Ray. They both deserve it. I've always had confidence in myself but it makes it a lot easier when you are running up front. I know Dodge and all the sponsors had to be happy last week. We'll get a win."
You're only DNS came at Atlanta. Are you looking forward to showing everyone what you can do here?
"Most definitely. I feel like we've got something to prove. We had a little trouble last time and didn't qualify for the race here earlier this year. This time, I'll be out for a little revenge. This has been a learning year for me. It's a lot harder than people think. It's a lot harder than I ever thought it would be."
Casey Atwood By the Numbers:
* Atwood is looking to make his first Winston Cup Series start at Atlanta on Sunday. He has made three Busch Grand National Series starts at the track, earning a top finish of 11th in his first visit in 1998. In Atlanta's spring Cup race, Atwood's qualifying run didn't go quite as planned, and he was unable to qualify for the race on provisionals.
* Atwood delivered another impressive performance last week at Homestead, starting from the outside pole next to teammate Bill Elliott and narrowly missing the opportunity to make his first visit to victory lane. Atwood brought home his No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T in third place, his best career finish in the Winston Cup Series.
* His performance last week in the Pennzoil 400 has made Atwood the top rookie qualifier and top rookie finisher in three consecutive races (Phoenix, Rockingham, Homestead).
* Casey Atwood became the youngest pole winner in the modern era of NASCAR when he won the Bud Pole for the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix. In the 23rd annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona next year, Atwood will become the youngest competitor in the race's history.
* The Pennzoil 400 at Homestead was the fourth Winston Cup Series race that Atwood has led a lap in. He led 13 laps at New Hampshire in July - the first laps led in his Winston Cup career. He also led laps at Martinsville and Phoenix. Atwood's 138 laps led for the year ranks him fifth among all 10 Dodges.
* With the money earned at Rockingham in the Pop Secret 400, Atwood passed the $1.5 million earnings mark for 2001. He has $1,693,536 in money earned this year (including bonus money from Daytona and Charlotte). Atwood earned a total of more than $1.4 million in his three-year Busch Grand National Series career.
* For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier 11 times -- Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Indianapolis, Phoenix, Homestead and the second races at Daytona, Michigan, Richmond and Rockingham. Atwood has been the top rookie finisher seven times -- Bristol, Richmond, Phoenix, Homestead and the second races at Pocono, Michigan and Rockingham. His average start is 19th and his average finish is 25th.