Casey Atwood Homestead preview

Homestead-Miami Speedway agrees with Casey Atwood HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 7, 2001)-Casey Atwood knows how to get around Homestead-Miami Speedway. Atwood's success at the 1.5-mile track should make for an exciting weekend for the 21-year-old...

Homestead-Miami Speedway agrees with Casey Atwood

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 7, 2001)-Casey Atwood knows how to get around Homestead-Miami Speedway. Atwood's success at the 1.5-mile track should make for an exciting weekend for the 21-year-old rookie and his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T from Evernham Motorsports.

The speedway is the site of Atwood's first top 10 finish in NASCAR's premiere series. In 2000, Atwood ran a limited Cup schedule while still competing in the Busch Series. A recent test session at the track, along with teammate Bill Elliott, should help Atwood's chances for another strong run.

Recently, Atwood has found himself in the front of the pack in his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T. He sat on the pole in Phoenix, where he led 71 laps and qualified third in Rockingham where he finished 14th. Atwood will try for his third consecutive top three qualifying run this weekend at Homestead.

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

You tested at Homestead-Miami Speedway. How did the session go?
"We tested in Miami and we felt that it went okay. There were some good teams down there and we felt that we were as good or better than just about everyone down there. It's one of my favorite tracks. I ran good there last year so I think that's our best shot to win a race."

Talk about your run at Rockingham. Your car looked strong all weekend.
"We were a little bit disappointed after our good qualifying run. Our car was just too loose. It would run for about 10 laps and we just spun the right rear tire off of it. We were just too loose and I couldn't hang on to it. We were 16th with not too many laps to go and the car just went away at that point."

How do you think your season's gone the second half of the year?
"We've had a lot of good qualifying efforts the second part of the season. I just really wasn't able to have a good race with it. We had a lot of problems. In Kansas City we were third and got in a wreck. In Indy we were third and ran into somebody and blew a radiator out. We've got to get a little luck too. We've had a lot of bad luck this year. I think I'm getting a lot better in the race just to be patient and keep it up front. We've just got to get a little luck with it and gain experience."

Casey Atwood By the Numbers:

* Though this is only Atwood's second Winston Cup Series visit to Homestead and his fifth visit overall, he has an excellent record at the track. Atwood took the pole in his first Busch Grand National race at Homestead in 1998, finishing 14th. His top finish at the track came in his first Winston Cup start at the speedway in the 2000 Pennzoil 400, where he started 5th and finished 10th. His top 10 finish at Homestead would stand as Atwood's career high until he finished ninth in this year's MBNA Cal Ripken, Jr. 400 at Dover in September.

* Atwood had another solid qualifying effort at last weekend's race in Rockingham. He started third but was forced to deal with a loose handling car for most of the day. The Dew Crew kept him from losing track position with fast and efficient stops while Atwood fought to maintain position on the track. Atwood held on to bring home the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T in 20th place.

* His performance last week at Rockingham has made Atwood the top rookie qualifier and top rookie finisher in consecutive races (Phoenix and Rockingham)

* Casey Atwood became the youngest pole winner in the modern era of NASCAR when he won the Bud Pole for last weekend's 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 Dura Lube 400 at Phoenix was the third Winston Cup Series race that Atwood has led a lap. He led 13 laps at New Hampshire in July - the first laps led in his Winston Cup career. He also led a lap earlier in the month at Martinsville. Atwood's 86 laps led for the year puts him fourth among all 10 Dodges.

* With the money earned in Phoenix at the Dura Lube 400, Atwood passed the $1.5 million earnings mark. He has $1,559,045 in money earned this year (including bonus money from Daytona and Charlotte). Atwood earned a total of over $1.4 million in his three-year Busch Grand National Series career.

* For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier ten times -- Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Indianapolis, Phoenix and the second races at Daytona, Michigan, Richmond and Rockingham. Atwood has been the top rookie finisher six times -- Bristol, Richmond, Phoenix and the second races at Pocono, Michigan and Rockingham. His average start is 20th and his average finish is 25th.

-EM-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Casey Atwood