MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 9, 2001) - Casey Atwood will be making his third visit to Martinsville Speedway this Sunday in hopes of finally putting it all together at the track. The rookie driver, who will pilot the No. 19 Dodge Dealers ...
MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 9, 2001) - Casey Atwood will be making his third visit to Martinsville Speedway this Sunday in hopes of finally putting it all together at the track. The rookie driver, who will pilot the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T in the Old Dominion 500 this weekend, grew up racing on short tracks and wants to show that he can compete on NASCAR's oldest track on the circuit.
Atwood's first visit to Martinsville came last fall and was only the second of his first three Winston Cup Series career starts in 2000. The experience proved valuable for the young driver as he earned top rookie qualifying honors at the track in his next visit, which came last April in a brand new red Dodge Intrepid R/T. Atwood says a good starting position is important to running well at Martinsville, and hopes he can repeat his top performance in the spring race.
You went to Greenville-Pickens Speedway this week. How did the test go? "We went to Greenville on Tuesday. A lot of people test there for Martinsville because they're kind of alike. They've both got the tight corners so it's pretty close. We felt like we had a good test there. There were some other Winston Cup teams there and we had a good run. We should be okay for this weekend."
What do you have to do to get around Martinsville? "Martinsville can be a tough track. I've run here twice in the Cup car. This was one of the tracks that I ran last year. We did alright in the Dodge earlier this season. I like short tracks but you've got to be real patient here. You can wear out your breaks going into the corners if you're not careful. It always helps to have been to a track a few times, but I like shorts tracks and we tested this week so that will help us."
Martinsville is famous for their hot dogs. How many are you going to eat this weekend? "Yeah, they're pretty famous for them. I know some people who eat so many that they get sick. I've never had one there. I don't really eat hot dogs so I don't expect that I'll start this weekend. I know a lot of people like them though. Martinsville is pretty famous for them."
* This will be Atwood's third Winston Cup Series visit to Martinsville Speedway. He finished 26th there in April's Virginia 500. Because Martinsville stopped hosting Busch Grand National Series races in 1994, Atwood has run only one race at the track prior to this year-- last year's Winston Cup NAPA Autocare 500 with team owner Ray Evernham as crew chief. In his Martinsville debut, Atwood's second Winston Cup Series race, he started 22nd and finished 25th.
* Last week at Charlotte, with Spider-Man crawling on the hood of his No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, Atwood tried to gain track position with a car that ran loose all day. The Dew Crew worked throughout the day to get his car manageable. In his second Winston Cup start at Charlotte, Atwood, who began the day in 29th place, finished 24th. The Winston Cup rookie gained a position in the points, moving up to 30th.
* Atwood led 13 laps at New Hampshire in July - the first laps led in his Winston Cup career. He was one of eight leaders for the day. He ran second at Indianapolis behind teammate Bill Elliott, a feat he also accomplished earlier this year at Talladega.
* Atwood's ninth place finish at Dover is the highest of his career, and his second top 10 of the season. He had his first top 10 in Michigan's Pepsi 400, matching his previous career best 10th place finish. Atwood finished 10th at Homestead last year in only his third Winston Cup Series start.
* In his last ten races, Atwood has qualified in the top 10 starting positions five times (seventh at Richmond, sixth at Michigan, fifth at Pocono and Kansas, and a career-high third place starting spot at Indianapolis).
* For the season, Atwood has been the top rookie qualifier eight times -- Texas, Martinsville, Pocono (twice), Daytona, Indianapolis, and the second races at Michigan and Richmond. Atwood has been the top rookie finisher four times -- Bristol, Richmond, Pocono (second race) and Michigan (second race). His finish at Charlotte moved him back into 30th in the points race, but he remains third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle. His average start is 20th and his average finish is 26th.