Dodge Then & Now 10-31-01

New Drivers Add to History of Dodge Poles ROCKINGHAM, N.C., Oct. 31, 2001 - Question: How many NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series poles have been won by Dodge drivers? Answer: 171 and counting, the most recent coming last week at ...

New Drivers Add to History of Dodge Poles

ROCKINGHAM, N.C., Oct. 31, 2001 - Question: How many NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series poles have been won by Dodge drivers? Answer: 171 and counting, the most recent coming last week at Phoenix International Raceway.

Dodge is two-for-two in the past two weeks in Bud Pole Awards as the fastest qualifying times were recorded for the Dodges driven by Stacy Compton at Talladega Superspeedway and Casey Atwood at Phoenix. In fact, Dodge is three-for-the-last-five when you add the pole won by Jason Leffler at Kansas Speedway.

The total for Dodge so far this season is six. Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, started the season on a high note for Dodge by winning the pole for the very first race of the season, the 2001 Daytona 500. The race was the first NASCAR Winston Cup event for Dodge after an absence of more than 20 years.

Sterling Marlin, driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T, also won a pole at Daytona International Speedway. Marlin's pole came in the heat of July as drivers competed for starting positions in the Pepsi 400.

Compton, driver of the No. 92 Levi Garrett Dodge Intrepid R/T, won both poles this season at Talladega, making a sweep of the superspeedway poles for Dodge in 2001, the first time a manufacturer took all four poles in one season since 1999.

"Poles here came by a lot of hard work from the team and Dodge, Ernie Elliott and all the guys in the motor shop," said Compton after his second pole at the Talladega. "We came and tested in the spring. We didn't come back for this race. We made some changes and we felt like we were going to be a little bit better for qualifying. In practice, that's pretty much all we had. We felt like we had a shot at a top five. Chad (crew chief Knaus) and the guys made some changes after practice. It paid off. We got a lucky draw, too. We got a late draw and it cooled down a little bit and maybe the motors made a little bit more horsepower. Everything sort of went in our favor today."

Of course, winning poles is not the same as winning races. Dodge has three wins so far in the 2001 season (Marlin at Michigan in August; Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, in September at Darlington; and Marlin again in October at Lowe's Motor Speedway in North Carolina). Still, qualifying well is important.

Compton says he understood the importance of winning the pole as a youngster watching Richard Petty race. "I was a huge fan of his growing up," said Compton. "Every Sunday, he started up front and finished up front. We all want to be that kind of driver. That's why he's The King."

Question: How many poles did Richard Petty win driving a Dodge? Answer: 20. Petty won his first pole driving a Dodge at Michigan International Speedway in August 1972, and his last Dodge pole at Ontario Motor Speedway in November 1977.

Compton admits there is more to winning the pole than a good start in the race. "Being on the pole is important for more than just track position," added Compton. "It's good for all the guys on the team. And, when you're looking for a sponsor, it's really important. It was great to go out to Phoenix and take the pole for the truck race. It just gave us that much more experience for the Cup race and visibility for the team. Now we just have to make some great finishes happen."

Question: Who won the first NASCAR Grand National pole driving a Dodge? Answer: Jim Paschal, Oct. 2, 1953 at Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg, Pa. Paschal set a blistering pace of 55.935 mph on the half-mile dirt track. He drove a 1953 Dodge Coronet owned by George Hutchens. Paschal dropped out of the race at the half way point due to mechanical problems and was scored in 16th place.

Question: Who won the most NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series poles driving a Dodge? Answer: Bobby Isaac, with a total of 49 poles. Isaac won his first Dodge pole at Richmond in 1968, and his last Dodge pole at Talladega in 1972. All of Isaac's Dodge poles were won at the wheel of the No. 71 K&K Insurance Dodge.

Question: Who is the youngest pole winner in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series since 1952? Answer: Casey Atwood, the 21-year-old driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, on Oct. 26 at Phoenix. "It wasn't a perfect lap," said Atwood. "Our car got a little bit loose, but it was good enough to win the pole. That's what we needed. It had a great motor in it and ran down the straightaways really well. It was really hooked up, just a little bit loose. It looked like everybody else was, too. I'm real proud of everybody on the team.

"The first half of the season we struggled a lot," continued Atwood. "The second half we actually picked it up. We qualified third at Indy and ran up front there. We ran 10th at Michigan and that's a place I've never run good at. We've just really stepped up our program. We've improved our Dodge package a lot with the engines and aero package. We feel like it's been going really well the second half of the season. We just haven't had the finishes to show for it."

Question: Who was the first Winston Cup Rookie-of-the-Year Award candidate to win a pole driving a Dodge in 2001? Answer: Jason Leffler, driver of the No. 01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T, on Sept.28 at Kansas Speedway. "I told the guys we were going to be on the pole at Dover and we went home instead," Leffler said after winning the Bud Pole Award. "I just missed it by a week." Asked if he was nervous waiting for the rest of the field to make their qualifying attempts, Leffler said, "I was just sitting there waiting for the end and hopefully no one was going to bump me off. Either way, I knew we had a good starting spot. Once it was over, I guess it was kind of a little relief to be able to say I finally got a pole."

Question: At what track have Dodges won the most NASCAR Winston Cup Series poles? Answer: Daytona International Speedway (13). LeeRoy Yarbrough won the first Dodge pole at Daytona on July 3, 1966. The most recent Dodge pole winners at Daytona are Elliott and Marlin.

"We've been real close all year," said Marlin after his qualifying attempt at Daytona. "We kind of went all out for the pole here. That was a good lap for us. The guys did a great job. We came off the truck pretty fast. This is the same car we had here in February and at Talladega. We've started third and second so far. All the guys at the shop worked hard and if this holds up for the pole, they really deserve the credit."

Question: Who were the first father and son combination to win Grand National poles driving a Dodge? Answer: Buck and Buddy Baker. Buck Baker's first pole was won Mar. 4, 1956 at West Palm Beach, Fla., and Buddy Baker's first was July 27, 1966 at Islip, N.Y. If you said Lee and Richard Petty, you were pretty close. Lee Petty won his first NASCAR Grand National pole in a Dodge on July 3, 1956 at Spartanburg, N.C., and Richard Petty won his first Dodge pole on Aug. 19, 1972.

Question: What Rookie-of-the-Year Award winner won a Winston Cup pole driving a Dodge during his rookie season? Answer: James Hylton, May 12, 1966 at Starlite Speedway, Monroe, N.C. Hylton is also the only Rookie-of-the-Year Award winner to finish second in the championship point standings in the same year. In 41 starts that season, Hylton had 20 top-five finishes and 32 top-10s. Dodge driver David Pearson won the NASCAR Grand National Championship that season.

Question: Who won the last NASCAR Winston Cup pole driving a Dodge before 2001? Answer: Neil Bonnett, April 1, 1978 at Bristol, Tenn. In fact, Bonnett won the last three Dodge poles before the brand returned to NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing in 2001. Bonnett was very successful winning poles in Dodge equipment, in fact, as he won a total of nine poles driving Dodges.

Perhaps the most surprising question and answer: Who won three consecutive Grand National/Winston Cup poles at Talladega driving a Dodge? Amazingly enough, two drivers have accomplished that feat - Bobby Isaac (Sept. 13, 1969, April 11, 1970 and Aug. 22, 1970) and Dave Marcis (Aug. 16, 1975, May 1, 1976 and Aug. 7, 1976). Current Dodge driver Stacy Compton may become the third; he won both poles at Talladega in 2001.

What does it take to be a fast qualifier? We put that question to Compton, the only Dodge driver to win two Winston Cup poles this season. Compton also won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole at Phoenix this year and has a career total of nine Truck Series poles, six of which came in his last full season in the Series.

"A lot of our success in qualifying comes from being comfortable with the crew," said Compton. "You know you've got good equipment, that they've built good stuff. When you go out there, you know what you've got. Then, you got to just go for it. Just go out and get a good lap."

As all the good drivers who never won a NASCAR Winston Cup pole will attest, that's easier said than done.

This week in Dodge history:

* 11/2/69 - Bobby Isaac powered his K&K Insurance Dodge past David Pearson during lap 63 and led the rest of the way to win the Jeffco 200 at Jeffco Speedway in Jefferson, Ga. The win was Isaac's 16th of the season.

* 11/2/75 - Richard Petty and his Petty Enterprises Dodge made up a lap and ran down the leader on lap 436 to win the Volunteer 500 at Bristol International Speedway in Tennessee. Petty had cut a right front tire early and got a lap behind. Not only did he make up the lap, Petty eventually put the second place car down a lap. The win was his 13th of the season. He had previously clinched his sixth Winston Cup Series championship.

-Dodge Motorsports-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jason Leffler , Sterling Marlin , Casey Atwood , Stacy Compton , Dave Marcis , Richard Petty , James Hylton , Buddy Baker , David Pearson , Lee Petty