RICHMOND, Va., (May 2, 2001) - It may be called the Pontiac Excitement 400, but the Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood predict the real excitement at Richmond International Raceway will come from Dodge this weekend. "It's one of the better places we...
RICHMOND, Va., (May 2, 2001) - It may be called the Pontiac Excitement 400, but the Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood predict the real excitement at Richmond International Raceway will come from Dodge this weekend.
"It's one of the better places we race," said Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T. "I've always had good runs there. It's all right. It's definitely better than most places."
For Elliott, who won at Richmond in 1992 and has finished in the top 10 in more than half of the 22 races he has run there, this Richmond race may bring some surprises.
"You never know with a new package like we've got," said Elliott. "When we get to a track for the first time around, we've got to work to figure out what we need. For Sunday, the key is going to be getting hooked up and staying out of trouble. You can start anywhere, but your track position during the race is the most important part."
Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, is excited about returning to Richmond. He began his career there last fall, driving the No. 19 Motorola Evernham Motorsports car. He qualified 35th but pulled out a top 20 finish under Evernham's guiding hand, ending up 20th for the day.
"Richmond is one of my favorite tracks," said Atwood. "It's D-shaped but short. I've always run good there. This is the first Winston Cup track I've been to twice, so we're much better prepared. We know what to expect, and we've got notes from last year."
Atwood said this year's start at Richmond would definitely be different from his first.
"I was the most nervous I have ever been," said Atwood of his first Winston Cup start. "I was even more nervous than my first ever go-cart race when I was 10. I was just walking around in a daze. Ray was nervous, too. He just kept telling me to do the best I could. We came real close to not making it, but we got in at 35th."
"It's getting easier and easier each week," added Atwood. "We're a lot better right off the truck. We've had some pretty good cars so far this season, we just keep having bad luck. We're expecting to be pretty good off the truck again this weekend and hopefully get some good luck, too. It's when you're 36th best in practice that you worry. We've been pretty good in qualifying. Now, we really want to get some consistent finishes the rest of this season."
Elliott agreed that his rookie teammate has made a lot of progress since that first race last year.
"I just don't know about that boy," joked Elliott. "He's a lot more confident and he's mixing it up pretty good out there. He's gotten a whole lot better. He sticks his nose in there pretty good."
For Atwood and the Dew Crew, the goal for the weekend is to qualify in the top 15 and bring home a top 10 finish.
"I love Richmond," said Atwood. "I really think we can bring home a top 10. I really like the night races. It's cooler in the cars and they handle better. It reminds me of the local stuff that we grew up with. You work on the cars all day and race at night. I think it's exciting for the fans, too. The cars look better, the colors are brighter. They can see sparks from the stands. It's exciting. I think they all ought to be at night."
"Bill runs really good at Richmond," said Evernham. "He's looking forward to going back. And Richmond was Casey's first Winston Cup start last fall, and he gets better every time we go back to a place. He's should be good at Richmond. I hope we're going to have a good weekend."