CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Atwood, a 21-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Nashville, Tenn., led the way in the first practice session with a lap of 175.103 mph. The Evernham Motorsports...
(No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Atwood, a 21-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Nashville, Tenn., led the way in the first practice session with a lap of 175.103 mph. The Evernham Motorsports rookie led the way with four Dodge Intrepid R/T drivers in the top 10 in the opening practice.
"We hadn't changed a spring or turned a wrench or nothing. The car unloaded perfect. All we did is change a gear. We're going to go to race setup for the next practice. We made all qualifying runs in the first practice, and we feel like we've got a shot at a good starting position tomorrow. I've had two poles every year of my career since I started in Busch. I at least want to get one this year, and I think this is a good weekend for it. We're going to go for it. I want to be in that Bud Shootout. The track is pretty close to Chicago. The back straightaway isn't curved like Chicago, but the turns are pretty close. I hadn't felt a bump out there. They did a real good job of paving the track. The track is close to Kentucky, too. Kentucky's got a different three and four, but one and two is pretty close.
"You would think if nobody has raced here, then nobody would have an advantage on anybody, so it'd more of a level playing field. Some people tested, so they obviously know a little bit more than us, but nobody really has an advantage this weekend.
"The car is real comfortable right now. A lot of guys were doing race runs, but we'll see how it goes tomorrow. I feel like we've got a decent car, and we're going to work on race runs the rest of the day."
(No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Compton, a 34-year-old driver from Grit, Va., posted the fifth fastest lap in the first practice session at 174.272 mph.
"I was a little concerned because we didn't get a chance to come here and test and a lot of other people did. We brought a good race car. We had this car at Indy, and it's been pretty good so far. Everybody is going to pick it up a little bit. Everybody will put in their big ponies tomorrow, but we've got a big pony we're going to put in, too. We're in qualifying setup, but we didn't have the qualifying motor in. I think we're decent. A lot of people were out there in race mode. Probably 20 percent were out there in race mode and 80 percent in qualifying mode. Regardless, we're pretty good right now. This track is exactly like Chicago. Both tracks are real smooth. There's one groove right now. That's the only thing that's a little scary right now. The track has a ton of grip right now. Come qualifying, it's going to be scary to see how fast we run. I think it's going to make for some real, real fast times. We just ran our quickest lap on 18-lap old tires. We're definitely going to scuff 'em, but it's a question of whether we're going to scuff two laps or 20 laps. Right now, it looks like the more laps we get on the tires, the better off we are. It looks like it's going to be a good race. After the Busch cars get on it and run a full race, it's going to change it considerably. Still yet, it's got so much grip right now there's not a lot you can do to hurt it right now. We struggled at Chicago, but we never had really fine-tuned with the downforce package. I think we've gotten a little bit better with it. We've got a pretty good race car right now. We just need some luck right now. The last eight or nine weeks, we've run so much better and the results haven't shown. People that are in the know have been watching and know we've been in the top 15 for the last seven or eight weeks, but we just can't capitalize on it. We have a tire go down and lose two laps in the pits and the caution comes out. Stuff like that has bit us everywhere. Right now we just need a little luck to go our way. If we can do that we'll worry about the rest later. I think Dodge has a good race car. With what we've learned and with the new nose and with what we've learned on horsepower, we're getting better every week. A lot of good Dodges are out there, and a lot of good Dodges came here and tested, too. It looks like it's paying off."
(No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Leffler, a 25-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year driver from Long Beach, Calif., was eighth fastest in the first practice at 173.227 mph.
"We had a good test here a couple of weeks ago, and we had a good practice this morning. We didn't make the field last week at Dover, and that was really disappointing. We finished 13th there in the first race, and we really thought we had a chance to go back there and have a really good run. We just never got the car right. It hurt. It just shows you how tough the series is. I'm here to do good. I'm not just here to be here. I want to run up front. It would help us out in the race if we could qualify up front tomorrow. This track is a little like Chicago and a little like Las Vegas. It's not as fast as Chicago, but it looks just like it from the garage area. It's a nice, beautiful place. I hope two grooves work in by race time, but if not, that'll make it even more important to qualify well tomorrow."
(No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Petty, a 41-year-old driver from Randleman, N.C., was ninth fastest in the first practice at 173.171 mph.
"We came and tested and felt like we had a really good test. We ran a bunch of .50s and .60s (30.50 and 30.60-second laps). We came back and we've picked up. We've run a bunch of .20s and .30s. If we can keep that up tomorrow we'll be OK. The track hasn't changed much since we tested. It's only going to get better the more rubber they put on it. Scuffs seem to be the general consensus, but we'll just have to wait and see."