Elliott Takes Home Another Top 10 At The Brickyard, While Atwood Gains EMore xperience Running With The Leaders INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (August 5, 2001) - The day was filled with a lot of promise for Evernham Motorsports. Bill Elliott was starting...
Elliott Takes Home Another Top 10 At The Brickyard, While Atwood Gains EMore xperience Running With The Leaders
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (August 5, 2001) - The day was filled with a lot of promise for Evernham Motorsports. Bill Elliott was starting second, and his rookie teammate Casey Atwood was starting one spot behind him in third. While Elliott brought home another top 10 and Atwood ran as high as second, the day didn't quite deliver on its potential.
Bill Elliott, driving the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, finished eighth, his fifth top 10 finish at the track and his third in the last four races. He challenged the No. 26 car from the time the green flag dropped, and passed him on lap 17 to take the lead. He led six laps, with Casey Atwood in the second position right behind him. It is the second time this season they have run first and second, the first coming at Talladega. However, the pit stop sequence shuffled Elliott through the field, and he spent the rest of the afternoon fighting his way back into the top 10. His eighth-place finish tied him with Jeff Burton for 15th position in the points race.
"We had a pretty good car today," said Elliott. "The problem was that some of those guys got out of sync on their pit stops and got track position on me. We got shuffled back and had to fight our way back up through that mess. I wasn't great today, I wasn't bad, but we had a pretty decent car."
Elliott said the rules change that added two inches to the front air dam of the Dodge Intrepid R/T didn't play a huge difference in the day, but did put them on a more level playing field with their competitors. "There wasn't a huge difference with the rules change," said Elliott. "It wasn't that much easier to pass. We've come a long way in the past few weeks, and that's what we've got to keep working on."
Mike Ford, crew chief of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, was pleased with the day's outcome, but has higher expectations for the remainder of the season. He added that he saw some benefit in the rule change implemented for the Dodge Intrepid R/Ts this week.
"Obviously we would have liked a little more from the day, but it's another top 10 finish for us," said Ford. "This series is about consistency and we've got three top 10s in the last four races. We're definitely headed in the right direction. We've been progressing week by week, but the rule change helped because some of the Dodge Intrepids performed well today and there were three of them in the top 10," said Ford. "It's a step in the right direction. Hopefully, it's a sign of what's to come. For the No. 9 car, we've been making progress as the year goes on, and we've been able to run in the top 10. With three top 10s in the last four weeks, we're definitely getting some consistency."
The No. 19 team and driver Casey Atwood were looking for a consistent run to boost them in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race, and they were well on their way to an impressive finish when an on-track incident on lap 32 sent Atwood to the garage and ended his day. Atwood finished the day 41st, which moves him to 33rd in the points race. He remains at third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle.
"I was right on the No. 88 and the No. 02 hit the wall in front of him," said Atwood. "The No. 88 checked up and there was nothing that I could do. It's disappointing because we were doing so well and were running right up there. It seemed like it really wasn't anything at first but when we brought the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T in we saw that the radiator was busted. We got a new one in but the engine was gone. There was nothing we could do after that. I'm as heartbroken as I've ever been. I just hate it for everyone because we were great this week in qualifying and everyone worked so hard to get this No. 19 Dodge running so great. It's just disappointing."
Sammy Johns, the team manager who was recently named crew chief for the No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T, was pleased with the early part of the race and said there was nothing his driver could do to avoid the on-track incident that took him out of the race early.
"I'm really proud of everyone on this No. 19 team," said Johns. "I know how special this race is to Ray, and we would have liked to have finished better for him. It's a real heartbreaker, but it was a super effort by the team. We learned a few things and now it's time to take that and move on."
Johns was awarded the Raybestos Top Wrench award presented to the crew chief of the highest qualifying rookie. Atwood joined Johns, who accepted the award and $5,000 check.
"Three or four weeks ago, we would be happy with a top 10 but we're hungry for top fives now," said team owner Ray Evernham. "We had two good cars but the racing cautions didn't fall our way. Casey got caught up in that wreck and that ended his day. I think he had a really good car today and Bill had a good car, too. Our cars were as fast as anybody.
"I think it's still too early to tell about the impact of the rules change on these cars," he added. "I think we were just as good at Pocono last week. I don't think we've really had a chance to work on this change yet, but we'll be busy on it this week as we get ready for Watkins Glen."
Evernham Motorsports in the News: The No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/Ts of Evernham Motorsports were among the lead news stories at the Brickyard 400. Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood were featured in the special section and Sunday edition of the Indianapolis Star. They also were featured in the Daytona Beach News Journal. Ray Evernham was featured in the St. Petersburg Times and the Baltimore Sun. Both Evernham and Atwood appeared on ESPN Sportscenter and RPM2Night following qualifying, and Evernham also was a guest on Fox "NASCAR This Morning". Evernham and Elliott were featured on The Weather Channel as part of its race weekend broadcast. In addition, Elliott, Atwood and Evernham were featured prominently throughout the TNT, Fox and NBC coverage of the weekend events.
Dodge Does Monument Circle: The Indianapolis Dodge Dealers Advertising Association hosted a new event that is sure to become a regular feature in the Brickyard schedule. The event, "Dodge at the Monument Circle," showcased four of the Dodge drivers, including rookie Casey Atwood, along with showcars, entertainment, merchandise trailers and food vendors. More than 500 race fans turned out to meet Atwood and the other drivers and enjoy the event.