TALLADEGA, Ala., (April 17, 2001) - For Dodge Motorsports, Talladega Superspeedway holds a special place in the auto manufacturer's record books. Dodge hopes to add a new entry to the ledger this weekend at the Talladega 500. "Talladega ...
TALLADEGA, Ala., (April 17, 2001) - For Dodge Motorsports, Talladega Superspeedway holds a special place in the auto manufacturer's record books. Dodge hopes to add a new entry to the ledger this weekend at the Talladega 500. "Talladega Superspeedway is a very special place for Dodge," said Bob Wildberger, Senior Manager, NASCAR Operations. "Through the decades, we have had many victories here. It would be the ideal place for our first win."
It was September 1969 at the brand-new Talladega Superspeedway where Dodge debuted the Dodge Daytona with its peaked nose and soaring rear wing. Bobby Isaac, running in the No. 71 K&K Dodge Daytona, scored the pole. But the fastest qualifier turned out to be Charlie Glotzbach with a new NASCAR record speed of 199.386 mph. Richard Brickhouse, also driving a Dodge Daytona, won the race that weekend, his only NASCAR victory.
Dodge amassed a total of 35 top-10 finishes between 1969 and 1981 at Talladega Superspeedway, including three wins and 20 top-five finishes. In March 1970, Buddy Baker became the world's first driver to top 200 mph on a closed course at Talladega. His Dodge Daytona was clocked at 200.447 mph. Eight months later, Bobby Isaac set a new closed-course speed record at Talladega by driving his Dodge Daytona 201.104 mph around the track. Isaac's record remained unbeaten until 1983.
Dodge Motorsports had yet another first at Talladega Superspeedway. On October 15, 1999, Dodge announced at its return to NASCAR Winston Cup racing at Talladega, 30 years after it won the inaugural race at the track. Dodge tested at Talladega last October, the last time any Dodge teams were on the track. For the engineers of Dodge Motorsports, this first race at Talladega presents an unusual challenge. Though its speedway package at Daytona performed very well, the rules changes to the roof blade imposed by NASCAR essentially give Dodge a new, untested car for the Talladega 500. While engineers have studied the cars' performance in the wind tunnel and through computer simulation, the on-track performance of the car in traffic is still an unknown.
"Just like when we went to Talladega with the new Dodge Daytona in 1969, or even when we went to the Daytona 500 with new Dodge Intrepid R/T this February, we weren't sure exactly how we would perform," said Tim Culbertson. "But, both of those experiences turned out okay. We know we had a good aero package for the Daytona 500. We've worked really hard with the new guidelines NASCAR has given us for this race, and we hope our results will be the same. We expect our cars might be a little slower due to the changes, but hopefully we can make that up in other ways."
Through eight races, Dodge has two drivers in the top 10 in the points race, with Sterling Marlin at third and Bill Elliott at ninth. It is third in overall manufacturer's points. To date, the 10 Dodge teams have collected six top five finishes and 12 top 10 finishes. The highest Dodge finish was John Andretti's second place finish at Bristol.