DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 6, 2001) -- It is becoming a familiar refrain at Daytona International Speedway -- Dodge leads the field. For the second time in 2001, a Dodge Intrepid will start in the top spot at Daytona International Speedway in the...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 6, 2001) -- It is becoming a familiar refrain at Daytona International Speedway -- Dodge leads the field. For the second time in 2001, a Dodge Intrepid will start in the top spot at Daytona International Speedway in the 43rd annual Pepsi 400 on Saturday night.
Sterling Marlin in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge secured the pole position for Saturday's Pepsi 400 with a qualifying speed of 183.778 mph, while Ward Burton drove the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge to the second-place starting position.
Stacy Compton's No. 92 Kodiak Dodge will start third, and rookie Casey Atwood in the No. 19 Dodge qualified fourth.
Bill Elliott in the No. 9 Dodge won the pole for the February 2001 Daytona 500. The Pepsi 400 pole is Marlin's first of the 2001 season.
"We kind of went all out for the pole here. This is the same car we had here in February and at Talladega," Marlin said. "We led a lot of laps here in February (11 times for 39 laps) and we led a lot of laps at Talladega (four times for 51 laps) with this car. Hopefully we can lead the right one Saturday night."
Marlin has consistently proven to be the strongest Dodge in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup field.
"I'm happy with our program. We've got a lot of good people working on the car," he said. "Dodge is giving us a lot of help, too. We kind of went through a little slump the last couple of years. We're really concentrating on our speedway efforts. We were off when we left here testing in January, and the guys went home and built us a new car in five and a half days. It paid off for us. Our guys work hard. They never give up, and I love them to death."
Rounding out the top 10 were: Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet; Andy Houston in the No. 96 McDonald's Ford; John Andretti in the No. 43 Hamburger Helper Dodge; Joe Nemechek in the No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet; Mark Martin in the No. 6 Pfizer/Viagra Ford; and Kevin Harvick in the No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
Of the five drivers competing in Winston's No Bull 5 promotion, which awards a $1 million bonus to both the winning driver and a fan, only two qualified in the top 10 -- Martin and Harvick.
The remaining No Bull 5 drivers are Jeff Burton in the No. 99 Citgo Ford, who qualified 30th; Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac, who qualified; and Bobby Labonte in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac, qualifying 33rd.
According to Martin, however, having the best car at Daytona doesn't necessarily guarantee the win.
"Certainly there's no real bonus for having the fastest race car and that plays in my hands because I sure don't fit that category," he said. "If there's ever a race where the fastest car might not win, this might be it, so that puts me in good shape. We're going to go out here and try to make sure that we have our car handling well; that's usually important here and we hope that comes into play more than anyone expects here tomorrow night."
Fans can watch Dodge go for its first win of the season in the Pepsi 400 by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.