Dodge Program on Track with Dealers and Fans AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (June 4, 2001) - Dodge Motorsports spent the 500 days prior to the 2001 Daytona 500 counting down the days in preparation for its return to NASCAR Winston Cup racing. On-Track ...
Dodge Program on Track with Dealers and Fans
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (June 4, 2001) - Dodge Motorsports spent the 500 days prior to the 2001 Daytona 500 counting down the days in preparation for its return to NASCAR Winston Cup racing.
On-Track Performance Shows Durability and Power
Dodge created a unique one-team approach to building and running race cars and teams. This one-team approach brought together racing veterans such as Ray Evernham, Bill Davis and Richard Petty with one-car team owners like Mark Melling and Winston Cup newcomers such as Chip Ganassi. Although Dodge has yet to visit victory lane, the rookie program has proven that its engines have the durability to finish races and its cars have the capability of running up front.
"We are extremely proud of the performance and depth of our teams," said Bob Wildberger, manager, NASCAR Operations for Dodge. "In the 100 or so days since we came to Daytona, our teams have shown that this program has a solid foundation and a lot of potential to win. Every one of our five team owners has had a Dodge that led laps this season."
* To date, Dodge has six top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and two poles in 13 starts. Top Dodge finishes include one second (John Andretti at Bristol), one third (Sterling Marlin at Las Vegas), and four fifth-place finishes (Sterling Marlin at Darlington and Martinsville, Bill Elliott at Daytona and Ward Burton at Bristol).
* Dodge has three drivers in the top 20 in points: Sterling Marlin is 5th, Ward Burton is 17th and Bill Elliott is 19th.
* Dodge has led 439 laps this season: Sterling Marlin led 249, Ward Burton led 90 laps, Dave Blaney led 70 laps, John Andretti led 51 laps, Bill Elliott led 14 laps, Stacy Compton led eight laps, and Buckshot Jones and Jason Leffler each led one lap. All five teams and seven of the 10 drivers have led laps this season.
* Dodge has been strongest on the superspeedways this season. It has one-two-three starts at both Daytona and Talladega. At Daytona, it led the field with Bill Elliott, Stacy Compton and Sterling Marlin. Marlin won one of two Gatorade 125s. All 10 Dodges qualified for the field, with four in the top 10. Dodge was a serious contender all day with three Dodges finishing in the top 10 -- Bill Elliott at 5th, Sterling Marlin at 7th, and Stacy Compton at 10th. Sterling Marlin led the most laps for any single driver with 53 laps lead. At Talladega, Stacy Compton took the pole, followed by Sterling Marlin and Bill Elliott.
* Dodge's Winston Cup program has not come at the expense of its NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series involvement. Dodge has seven poles and record-tying eight consecutive wins in the first eight races. Dodge is leveraging its NCTS success with print ads such as the "Dodge is kicking everyone's tailgate" and "The winner's circle looks like a Ram showroom". The Dodge Diversity program is also being leveraged with Dodge ads spotlighting NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Willy T. Ribbs.
"All in all, what we've accomplished is pretty amazing," said Ray Evernham, team owner and leader of the Dodge development effort. "We can't focus on what we haven't done - win. We need to focus on what we have done - develop a new automobile, get an engine program off the ground and be competitive in just 500 days. Dodge has been competitive out there and we've had cars that could win races. The No. 93, No. 9, No. 22 and No. 40 were all fast enough to win. We've just not put it all together on the race track yet. But that says an awful lot about the program and the cars. Sooner or later we're going to put it together. The dealers, the UAW, the DaimlerChrysler employees, the teams are all committed to the program and it shows."
One-Team Approach Continues Quest for Engineering Improvements
* Dodge's extensive engineering program that built the Intrepid R/T has been hard at work this season refining the race car engine, chassis and aero performance. The Dodge engineers continue to work with the teams under the innovative one-team approach, sharing data and developments to improve the 10 teams' performance.
* "The most significant thing we've done in the last 100 days is transition from developing a car and engine from scratch to managing an ongoing program," said Tim Culbertson, manager, Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup Program Engineering. "It's been a real dip in cold water to actually go racing. It's a big change to go from building something and finding huge gains each day to taking an existing car and looking for improvements. Now, we're searching for four counts less drag or three or five more horsepower."
* On the engine program, Dodge has proven its durability on tough
tracks like Rockingham, California or Lowe's Motor Speedway. The engineers
are now working on:
* Continued valve train development
* Reducing engine weight through lighter, stronger parts
* Performance developments such as enhanced intake manifold designs based on computer simulation tools
* From an aero standpoint, Dodge engineers point to speedway
performance at Daytona and the successful response to the NASCAR rules
change that gave them the front row at Talladega. Engineering is focused
* Testing for more downforce. Dodge is providing the teams opportunities to work on aero jointly or use the wind tunnel at Lockheed
* Managing air flow for different types of tracks
* On the chassis, Dodge is running complex analytical and empirical studies of the frame stiffness and performance. It has developed computer simulation tools and is working with the teams to utilize the tools effectively. Dodge and the teams can study the total car performance on specific tracks and analyze how different changes improve performance.
* Dodge continues to study safety. It is working on a number of issues, including safety, with NASCAR. It shared a number of safety concepts with the 10 Dodge teams and commissioned Dr. John Melvin to meet with the teams. Independently, Dodge is applying advanced computerized impact tools and sophisticated analyses to better understand how safety improvements might be made. Some of the analyses are so complex that it takes two days for a water-cooled computer large enough to fill a room to complete a study.
In the next 100 days, Dodge hopes to bring home its first NASCAR Winston Cup victory and improve the performance of its 10 teams.