Dodge ready for Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 15, 2001)-Built in 1949, the Darlington Raceway is entwined in the history of Dodge's early years in NASCAR. Exactly 30 years since Buddy Baker's 1971 win at the Rebel 400, the two will meet again for the Carolina Dodge ...

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 15, 2001)-Built in 1949, the Darlington Raceway is entwined in the history of Dodge's early years in NASCAR. Exactly 30 years since Buddy Baker's 1971 win at the Rebel 400, the two will meet again for the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400.

Known as the track "too tough to tame," the Darlington Raceway is a 1.366-mile egg shaped oval. Built with 25 degree banking in turns one and two and 23 degree banking in three and four, the feisty racetrack is one of the drivers' favorite.

Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, is the defending champion at the Darlington Raceway after winning the Mall.com 400 last year. Burton is currently 20th in the points standings and will make his 219th career start on Sunday. Burton also holds the record at the raceway for the fastest qualifying times for both NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup series.

"I'm very excited about racing at Darlington," said Burton. "It would be nice to be the first Dodge team to win, and to park that Dodge in victory lane at Darlington in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 would really be special. Good things seem to happen for us at Darlington. We led both races there last year, and we managed to capitalize on one of them. Darlington has been a good track for the Cat team. Hopefully, it'll continue to be a good track for us."

Going into the fifth race of the season, Dodge has two drivers in the top 10 in the NASCAR Winston Cup championship points battle. Sterling Marlin will start fourth in points while Bill Elliott has moved up to in sixth.

Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, is looking forward to Darlington.

"Darlington is a tough track," said Atwood. "Darlington is a lot like Rockingham. It really eats the tires, so we'll have to be ready for that. But Ray Evernham says it's one of his favorite tracks, and he's got a good setup for Darlington, so we're anxious to get there in our Dodge and see what we can do."

A few of the drivers had successful tests at Darlington including Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 93 Amoco Dodge Intrepid R/T.

"The No. 93 car tested there," said Blaney's teammate Ward Burton. "Doug Randolph, Blaney's crew chief, and Tommy Baldwin, crew chief of the No. 22, have been talking. We're just getting to the stage where the teams can pass along information from the tests and help the other team. Dave is testing at Bristol today, and he had a real good car last week at Atlanta."

Dodge holds three wins, seven poles, and 37 top five finishes in the Darlington Raceway history books. The last Dodge seen on the oval was in 1984 when Buddy Arrington placed 11th in the TranSouth 500.

-Mopar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Sterling Marlin , Casey Atwood , Ray Evernham , Buddy Baker , Tommy Baldwin