Richmond Mopar race notes

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We adjusted on it the whole night. At first, the car was just like it had been the whole time since we got here. It wouldn't turn at all in the center. We made a couple of adjustments and...

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"We adjusted on it the whole night. At first, the car was just like it had been the whole time since we got here. It wouldn't turn at all in the center. We made a couple of adjustments and got it a lot better. Then it started snapping loose in the center and right after the center. We've got to get the torque in the motors in different places. I know the numbers are showing good, but it sure doesn't feel like it out there. I'd put Terry Elledge (head engine builder) and my guys up against anybody. We've just got to have some time to get it all worked out. We're just not there yet. I didn't see any Dodge running up front.

"I didn't mean to wreck the 96. The 96 had split me three wide on three different occasions. Every time I had to back out to stop from wrecking. I definitely meant to get his attention. He was waving at me when it looked like the car snapped around. Him and I need to get together and sit down and have a talk I guess."

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"We took a gamble coming in on that last pit stop. We got two tires. It was a gamble. We had between an eighth and 12th-place car. It was a little loose and a little tight. We never got the consistency right. We're carrying about 50 more pounds on the motor than anybody else. It's just top heavy weight. I didn't think the car would be that good tonight. You're never satisfied unless you win, but we probably had about a 30th-place car yesterday. We changed a bunch of stuff and that gamble paid off. We got it pretty good, but it wasn't good enough to run up front."

KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"We got a lap down early, and then we got lapped there again at the end getting out of everybody's way. We had a good day. We had good pit stops, a good motor and a good car. Everything was good. We were just a little bit off, but that's OK. We'll keep working on it and get things straightened out."

DAVE BLANEY (No. 93 Amoco Ultimate Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"I just cut a right front tire and got into the wall. I'm all right. We'd been struggling with the car, but we were heading for a decent finish all things considered."

STACY COMPTON (No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"We got a lap down early and kept working on the car. We got it a little better, but we just never got it where it needed to be. It's disappointing because we really wanted to run good here. We'll keep working on it. There's no give up in this team. We've had some good runs and we're going to have some more good runs. We've just got to get things sorted out."

CASEY ATWOOD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Making his second NASCAR Winston Cup start at Richmond International Raceway, Atwood led all Raybestos rookie of the year drivers with a 12th-place finish in the Pontiac Excitement 400.

"The last two weeks we had top 10 cars both weeks and just couldn't clinch it. We had bad luck and had some stuff happen. We ended up 39th at California and 30th at Talladega. We needed this real bad. The team needed it to boost 'em all back up, and I needed it as a driver to give me more confidence. It was a good night for us to come from 42nd and taking a provisional and finishing 12th. It was great. We were good in qualifying. We should have qualified in the top 10. A couple of cars in front of me laid some oil down in qualifying. We got in that. It was lucky we had provisional points to get us in. This should be the third week in a row we had a good finish, a top 10 or top 12 finish. It just hasn't happened for us, so it was a good weekend for us.

"I'm not really sure what happened. A couple of red cars got into it up ahead of me. I think Dale Jr. was involved in it. We were all double file and the cars just started spinning in front of me. I had nowhere to go and ran into somebody and had some pretty good front end damage. I really feel like we could have had a top 10 finish if our front end hadn't been torn up so bad. We lost some downforce. It really doesn't make a lot of difference here at Richmond, but it makes some difference.

"We didn't test here. We had a pretty decent run here last year in the Cup race. We finished 19th. We learned a lot. We came back this year and had a good car right off the truck. We didn't get the qualifying position we needed. A car laid some oil down right in front of us in qualifying and I got in that and ended up taking a provisional, but the car was good all day.

"The team and I really needed it. We've been down a little bit. We should have had top 10s at Talladega and California. It didn't work out for us, so this is good for us.

"Actually we were pretty good all night. We were a little bit tight in the middle and pretty decent off, but the track kept changing. You get different tires, and they're all different. I wish we'd had our first set of tires on at the last of the race. That was our best run. At the end, I was loose in and loose off and that was completely different than we'd been all day. If we knew we would have put that first set on our last stop.

"I expected it to be hard. It's never easy when you bring a brand new car in that's never been run. Not only do we have a brand new car, we've got a brand new motor. It's a great car, and everybody is having to learn about the car and what makes it better. We have to tune on the car and engine, and they're right there. It won't be long, and there will be one in victory lane. They're contenders every week. It's just a matter of time.

"We were determined to get a good finish here, and that's what we did. I think this will pump everybody back up. I've never seen Ray so excited. When he was with the 24 car, he was disappointed when he finished second. I've never seen him so happy to finish 12th. Everybody is excited. We didn't have the perfect car, but we felt like we had a top-10 car tonight and we came from 42nd, so we earned it. It was pretty exciting for me.

"Ray has always been involved with us. He's always in the garage area helping us with setups and stuff. Any time you've got Ray Evernham helping you, it's going to help. He knows how to call a good race. Patrick Donahue (crew chief) is doing a great job, but I think he can learn a lot from Ray. We just need to keep building this deal, and we'll get better and better."

RAY EVERNHAM (Team Owner Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid R/Ts)

"The rookie team did a real good job. They needed this finish. They've been capable of finishes like this the last couple of weeks and they got one. That's the good news. The bad news is every week I get to experience something new as a car owner. Tonight it was having both of my cars in the same wreck. The 19 is all tore up, but the 9 got tore up worse.

"We've got to do the best we can every week. We want Casey to be in the battle for the rookie title, but we've got to get running better. We know that. Right now the car is buried pretty far back in the points. We've got to get the finishes we deserve, and hopefully Casey will be challenging for that rookie deal at the end of the year. The goals were to be in the top 25 in points and to be challenging for the rookie of the year deal. We've still got two-thirds of the season to achieve that.

"I think you'll see this from Casey at a lot of places the second time around this season. He's done a good job. The last three or four weeks in a row they've had a car capable of these finishes. They've just not been able to get it because of circumstances that were out of their control."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ray Evernham