LOUDON, N.H., (November 20, 2001) - After driving to a quiet beginning, Casey Atwood has shifted his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T into high gear since the season's midway point at New Hampshire in July. Atwood, who will start Sunday's race...
LOUDON, N.H., (November 20, 2001) - After driving to a quiet beginning, Casey Atwood has shifted his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T into high gear since the season's midway point at New Hampshire in July. Atwood, who will start Sunday's race from the 32nd spot, is not looking to slow down as the Winston Cup Series closes out its season at the one-mile track.
Since the season's midway point, Atwood has earned all three of his top 10 finishes, eight of his ten top 10 starts and all of his 138 laps led in 2001. He is starting an average of five positions better, and he's finishing more than seven spots better in each race since the halfway mark. Atwood has also moved from 34th to 25th in the points standings, and has become the youngest pole winner in the series' modern-era by starting first on the grid at Phoenix.
Atwood's return to New Hampshire International Speedway will also be a return to his preferred style of racing. The one-mile oval has always been on Atwood's list of favorites due to its flat track and short length. He raced well there this year for team owner Ray Evernham, earning the highest Dodge finish on the day, 12th. He also has seen a second place start and a top five finish at the track throughout his three visits in the Busch Grand National Series.
Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
How do you like racing at New Hampshire?
"I ran Busch cars three times at New Hampshire. My first time at New Hampshire I qualified second in 1998, so it's always been a pretty good track for me. I definitely like it. It's always suited my driving style from the first time I saw it. I took to it well. It's a flat track, and I normally run well on flat tracks."
What's the key to getting around at New Hampshire?
"It's hard to pass at New Hampshire, but if you can get your car to turn good in the center and come off good, you can pass. You've got to have your car decent. Track position is really, really important there because it's so hard to pass. Qualifying is important and with the field already set, there's not much we can do about that. It's no big deal. We had a really good car there last time. We led some and then we pitted and the caution came out and got us a lap down. We were able to make it up. We'll just go back there looking to improve on our finish from earlier this season."
Casey Atwood By the Numbers:
*This will be Atwood's second Winston Cup Series visit to New Hampshire International Speedway. In New Hampshire's July race he started the day 27th and led 13 laps before holding on to a 12th place finish (tying his original season-high finish earlier this year of 12th at Richmond). Atwood has also made three Busch Grand National Series starts at New Hampshire. He started second in his first appearance at the track in 1998 and had his best performance at the track when he finished fifth in 2000's Busch 200.
*Atwood led 13 laps in New Hampshire's spring race - the first laps led of his Winston Cup career. He also led laps at Martinsville and Phoenix and Homestead. Atwood's 138 laps led for the year ranks him fourth among all 10 Dodges.
*Crew chief Sammy Johns and the Dew Crew worked to adjust the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T after Atwood lost a lap early and reported that he was tight in the center after starting 22nd last week in Atlanta. Atwood continued his hunt for track position and was able to pick up spots in the remaining stages of the race to finish 20th.
*His performance last week in the NAPA 500 has made Atwood the top rookie qualifier in four consecutive races (Phoenix, Rockingham, Homestead and Atlanta). Atwood was also the top rookie finisher in three of his last four 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 (he finished with a career-high third place on the day). In the 23rd annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona next year, Atwood will become the youngest competitor in the race's history.
*With the money earned at Rockingham in the Pop Secret 400, Atwood passed the $1.5 million earnings mark for 2001. He has $1,751,311 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 12 times - Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Indianapolis, Phoenix, Homestead and the second races at Daytona, Michigan, Richmond, Rockingham and Atlanta. 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.