Evernham Motorsports Daytona qualifying

DAYTONA BEACH, FL, February 15, 2001 - When Evernham Motorsports laid out their game plan for the Gatorade 125s, they had two goals - get Casey Atwood's No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T into the show and keep Bill Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers ...

DAYTONA BEACH, FL, February 15, 2001 - When Evernham Motorsports laid out their game plan for the Gatorade 125s, they had two goals - get Casey Atwood's No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T into the show and keep Bill Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T out of the wall. Veteran Bill Elliott finished 20th in a 26 car field in the first of the Gatorade 125s, running 147.267 mph. He started the day up front after winning the Bud Pole the previous Saturday and led eight early laps of the event. "All in all it turned out well today," said Bill Elliott, a two-time winner of the Daytona 500. "We'll take the information and get ready for Sunday. I don't know if I feel better or worse about Sunday. It'll depend on how hot or cold it is. We got through today, and now I want the 500 on Sunday. There was no need getting stupid out there today. Right now, you've got to look at the big picture. We've got to race on Sunday. That's why we're here." Elliott tested his race car leading the draft, then moved to the middle and rear of the pack to see how the Dodge worked with other cars. An early yellow flag brought in most of the field, but Elliott stayed out. He pitted under the second caution of the day on lap 34, taking two tires. "We took a little bit of a conservative route today," said No. 9 crew chief Mike Ford. "The best thing he could have done was sit back a little bit and not take a chance of tearing up the car. The No. 1 priority was to not tear up the race car, so we consider it a good day." Elliott's teammate Casey Atwood showed a strong car and some solid driving ability in his rookie run in the Gatorade 125s. He started 13th in the first race and finished 10th, running 147.41mph. He ran several laps in third before dropping back to the middle of the field. Atwood took advantage of the first two cautions to bring his car into the pits. "Casey did a great job," said team owner Ray Evernham, who spotted for Atwood. "He just shows me every time he goes out there that he has experience beyond his years. He earned his way into that race. I'm very proud of that kid." "This car is better than anything I've ever driven before," said Atwood. "We came here ready. I'm glad a Dodge won the first 125. It's been a great week for Dodge with the front row and Bill getting the pole. It's been a good week for Evernham Motorsports. Maybe we can put one of these Dodges in Victory Lane for the Daytona 500. "I thought we were going to see more single-file racing today, but it was two or three wide the whole race," said Atwood. "It was fun. A couple of times I thought I was going to get shifted to the rear, but we were able to come back to 10th and get a good starting spot for the Daytona 500. I feel good about the 500. This was our true test." "I don't always get what I want, but we wanted 10th and we got it today," said No. 19 crew chief Patrick Donahue. "The car was pretty good. We got lucky because it was overheating and we were able to come in and fix it in the first caution. We've got a good driver, and now we've got a race under our belt. Casey's got his confidence up and he knows what he needs to feel in the car. We are extremely happy." Donahue said his rookie driver has what it takes to run with the veterans. "It felt really good to see the No. 19 running right behind the No. 24 and No. 3. They weren't going to let him past them. They may have more experience than Casey, but he's got just as much talent. Now, we've got to get the car a little better and get Casey some more experience." "NASCAR gave us an old fashioned draft with the current package," said Tim Culbertson, lead engineer for the Dodge NASCAR Winston Cup program. "We worked hard 500 days and we've got a good engine and a good aero package. We were fast out there and we worked well in the draft." Starting the day, Dodge had the front row confirmed for the race, with Bill Elliott on the pole and Stacy Compton on the outside pole in his No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T. Sterling Marlin, in the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T, won the first of the Gatorade 125s, running 147.448 mph. Drivers Casey Atwood, Jason Leffler, Buckshot Jones, Ward Burton, Dave Blaney, and Kyle Petty earned positions in the race in their respective 125s. John Andretti qualified based on his time from first round qualifying last Saturday.

-EM

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Bill Elliott , Jason Leffler , Kyle Petty , Sterling Marlin , Buckshot Jones , Casey Atwood , Stacy Compton , Ray Evernham , Dave Blaney