On-track experience is the key to success in any form of racing. Over the past year, Casey Atwood has been able to learn and grow in areas he was lacking when he first stepped up to the big leagues of stock cars, Winston Cup, a year ago. "I feel...
On-track experience is the key to success in any form of racing. Over the past year, Casey Atwood has been able to learn and grow in areas he was lacking when he first stepped up to the big leagues of stock cars, Winston Cup, a year ago. "I feel like I'm a lot better on bigger tracks now. Used to, I could only run good on flat tracks and short tracks. I've never really ran good on fast banked tracks I've seemed to learn something on those last year that's helped me for this year."
At 21, Atwood continues to be the youngest driver on the Winston Cup circuit. A year's experience aside; he still has his favorites. "I always look forward to going to the short tracks. That's what I grew up on, and that hadn't been too long ago so I still feel more comfortable on those than anything else."
After spending his rookie season with Ray Evernham in the No. 19 car, Evernham shifted Atwood to the No. 7 team, which merged a partnership with Ultra Motorsports and Jim Smith.
Doubters claimed Evernham was abandoning Atwood by pushing him out of the two car organization with a team who's leader, Evernham, claims Atwood is sure to one day be a Winston Cup Champion. But in a sport where sponsorship is a prerequisite to success, Atwood gained one up on his doubters and grabbed a sponsor in Sirius Satellite Radio over the off-season.
Sirius has since signed on with ISC, (International Speedway Corp.) and will be the title sponsor on the upcoming Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at the Michigan International Speedway. Added pressure comes in form of dollar signs and with his sponsor being the title of the race, Atwood knows that he has to perform. "It's a little bit more pressure. We're definitely wanting to do good. It's going to be a real important race for us. There's going to be a lot of people here from Sirius, it's going to be a big race for us. Hopefully we can do good."
Performance has been lacking for the newly formed Ultra/Evernham team. Atwood currently sits 33rd in points and his highest finish of the season is the 14th place finish he scored at Dover. "You just gotta have everything come together. You gotta have a great car, great team, great driver. Beginning of the year, I couldn't get out of the 30th place range."
Now that we are nearly midpoint in the season, things are beginning to look up for the second year driver. "Tony Furr has come on to help us. We've had a car that should have finished in the top-10 three weeks in a row and had a little bit of bad luck. You've just gotta have everything come together and you've gotta communicate well and that's what we're doing now and things have picked up a lot."
The struggle a team goes through is what builds strong teams and Atwood is sure he's on one. "I wouldn't take anything back because now we got a great group of guys and I think we're really gonna start picking it up."
The past few weeks Atwood has been running strong, he just hasn't had the finishes to back it up. This past weekend at Dover he was running eighth when eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson bumped him out of the way. Atwood was able to save the car from a spin but lost numerous spots after sliding up the track.
The driver of the No. 7 Dodge is clearly disappointed in the incident, but understands why Johnson made the move. "I was running right on the bottom on that restart and just got tapped. He had the fastest car, he was trying to get back to the front as fast as he could. At least he tried to pass me a couple laps first before he did that though."
Will you ever see young Atwood use that kind of aggressiveness on track? "I am a real patient driver, I don't know if that's good or bad now. It used to be good."