Ray Evernham talks Martinsville strategy

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 18, 2000) -- After wowing the NASCAR community with a 19th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Sept. 9, the No. 19 Motorola Evernham Motorsports team heads to Martinsville Speedway with renewed...

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 18, 2000) -- After wowing the NASCAR community with a 19th-place finish at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Sept. 9, the No. 19 Motorola Evernham Motorsports team heads to Martinsville Speedway with renewed intensity and a fresh strategy.

Driver Casey Atwood has never raced on the 0.526-mile, low-banked turns of Martinsville Speedway but the team plans to test there Sept. 19-20.

"This is one of the only NASCAR tracks that I haven't raced at, and I want to get to every track before next year," Atwood said. "I grew up racing on short tracks, so I do my best there."

The 20-year-old NASCAR Winston Cup Series newcomer will drive for the Motorola Evernham Motorsports team that was formed to allow Evernham and Atwood to gain NASCAR Winston Cup Series experience in preparation for the team's 2001 debut with Dodge. Motorola, the "Official Communications Company of NASCAR," is supporting the team for three races in 2000. The team's final event of the year is at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 12. Chad Knaus serves as crew chief, with team owner Ray Evernham playing an active role developing and analyzing race strategy.

"I'm going to expect a little more from Casey at Martinsville," Evernham said. "Richmond was his first race, and because he performed so well there I'm going to push him a little harder this time and expect him to be more competitive."

Although he plans to push the team more, Evernham doesn't consider himself a needless risk taker.

"We'll take whatever risks are necessary to get the car into position," he said. "I always weigh the risk versus the gain and if it's worth it, I take the risk."

One of the elements to racing at Martinsville Speedway is brake conservation. Evernham said the team will adjust the gear ratio of the Motorola Evernham Motorsports car to reflect the amount of brakes Atwood will use.

"Casey got a taste of how important brakes are at Richmond, which is probably the third hardest track on brakes -- Martinsville being the first," Evernham said. "He was very good on his brakes at Richmond so I won't worry about that as much."

When Evernham was asked which teaching style he preferred, either (A) letting a child touch a stove to learn that it is hot, or (B) telling a child repeatedly not to touch the stove, he laughed and said, "I look for the child that licks his finger first and then just taps the stove without getting burnt."

Evernham continued, "I want to educate Casey enough to avoid hardship, but he needs to figure things out himself. He'll find out where the line is in Winston Cup, but like every rookie, he'll need to step over that line in order to learn."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Casey Atwood , Ray Evernham