Las Vegas Dodge qualifying report

LAS VEGAS (March 2, 2001)-Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood put their two Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/Ts solidly into the top half of the starting line up today for Sunday's UAW DaimlerChrysler 400. Elliott, who finished fourth here...

LAS VEGAS (March 2, 2001)-Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood put their two Evernham Motorsports Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/Ts solidly into the top half of the starting line up today for Sunday's UAW DaimlerChrysler 400. Elliott, who finished fourth here last year, ran a qualifying lap of 31.617 sec., 170.794 mph putting him 16th on the grid. Atwood, a rookie in this year's event ran qualified at 31.645 sec., 170.643 mph, eclipsing his best lap times set here in previous testing and practice over the winter.

"We felt good, the track was real good," said Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T. "There are a few things we could change, but we had a good day. We're in the top 20, I'm happy with that. I like this race track, but we just need to monitor the weather and see what we're going to do for Sunday."

Elliott is running a new chassis this weekend for the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"I'm happy with the session today," said Evernham Motorsports Team Manager Eddie D'Hondt. "Last year, I believe we qualified 38th, charged right through the field, got up to fourth and stayed there. I'm not sure if he got a good handle on the car or how much qualifying means here, but I'm pretty pleased with it. Casey came in and gave us some good information on the rpms in the engine and the tape on the nose. We're working together. That's what a good two-car team is all about."

Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, may be less familiar with the track than Elliott, but managed to keep his car in the top 20 for Sunday's race.

"I'm happy with today," said Atwood, whose car enjoys an associate sponsorship from race sponsor the UAW DaimlerChrysler National Training Center. "I'm not as familiar with this track as Rockingham, but it felt good. We're going to make a few changes to pick up some speed for Sunday, but overall it was a good run. I felt comfortable out there, I'm looking forward to happy hour to get some more time on the track."

Atwood is currently tied for Rookie of the Year points with Ron Hornaday who qualified in the 12th spot for Sunday's race.

"The car's pretty good, it's the best lap we've had from testing and practice," said Patrick Donahue, crew chief for the No. 19 team. "We're starting in the top 20 right behind Bill, we're happy with that. We could've gone faster, we know what we need to do to go faster. After Casey went out there he came in and gave us some info to help Bill go a little bit faster. We're sharing information, that's working pretty good. We're in the show again, starting 18th; this is our best start this year. We're getting there little by little."

"I'm happy with the balance of the two cars," said Ray Evernham, owner of Evernham Motorsports. "We just need to find some more speed though. It's great we we're only three weeks into the season the only thing we're worried about is how fast the cars are. We've got both cars in the top 20. I'm happy about that, but we're working to get them in the top10. We won't know what to expect until we get the cars into race setup tomorrow, we'll take that input and make some adjustments for Sunday."

With two races down and 34 to go for the 2001 season, the two Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/Ts will continue to improve their on track performance and race closer to winner's circle each week.

"Each track we come to it's a new learning curve for the Dodge program," said Bob Wildberger, Senior Manager Dodge NASCAR Motorsports Operations. "We're really proud of all the teams, but we're eating this elephant one day at a time, that's the way we learn. I think the UAW sponsoring the race on Sunday is absolutely terrific. It's the Dodge way of doing it. We've got the people who design the cars working with the folks build the cars and the people that that sell the cars; it's a great combination. I think everyone is very happy with the program so far, its only three down after Las Vegas, just think we've got 33 more to go."

- Dodge Motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Casey Atwood , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ray Evernham