Dodge shows potential right out of the box By Dave Rodman HOMESTEAD, Fla. (May 2, 2000) After 208 days of its self-imposed 500-day countdown to the 2001 Daytona 500, Dodge's first version of its NASCAR Winston Cup race car hit the track...
Dodge shows potential right out of the box
By Dave Rodman
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (May 2, 2000) After 208 days of its self-imposed 500-day countdown to the 2001 Daytona 500, Dodge's first version of its NASCAR Winston Cup race car hit the track Tuesday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a show of great potential.
The car was constructed at the Ray Evernham Motorsports shops in Mooresville, N.C., which is the de facto headquarters of the "Dodge Test Team," the conglomerate of Dodge engineers, executives and members of the three race teams that to-date have been announced as fielding Dodges in 2001.
Its first run -- and the first time it had been run anywhere save in the REM parking lot and in limited excursions on the surrounding streets -- was a four-lap stint that unofficially placed it 2.6 seconds off the 1999 Jiffy Lube 400 Bud Pole time of David Green last November.
After a morning introduction, at 11:30 a.m. ET test driver Kyle Petty warmed up for a couple laps, then capped the four-lap set with a 36.82-second effort, an average speed of 146.659 mph. Green's pole lap in the Tyler Jet Motorsports Pontiac last November was 34.669 seconds, 155.759 mph.
The test laps were the culmination of 208 days of unbridled excitement from everyone from Lou Patane, Dodge's vice president of motorsports operations and Mopar Performance Parts; to team owners Evernham, Petty and Bill Davis; to the engineering staff to the drivers and team members themselves.
Davis perhaps summed up the feelings in the his shop specifically but generally in the "unified team" approach that is being espoused by Dodge. Davis was the last man to address a large media gathering at Homestead-Miami Speedway Tuesday morning, following Patane, Petty and Dodge engineering heads responsible for engine, aerodynamic and chassis development.
"Over the last 90 days I have been asked countless times, 'Why did you switch?'" he said of his announcement in February that he would switch from fielding Pontiacs in NASCAR 2000 to Dodges in 2001. "I would hope now you can understand why we did it. The engineering capability and resources Dodge has in place for this is unparalleled -- no one else has this type of program in place."
Evernham said construction on a complete lineup of four test chassis is almost complete. Two are up and running, including the one being used at Homestead and another which is being completed for a wind tunnel test at the end of this week at the Lockheed Wind Tunnel in Marietta, Ga.