Casey Atwood is on his way to becoming a household name. By Shawn A. Akers LAS VEGAS (March 1, 1999) First, Casey Atwood won the Bud Pole for the 1998 BellSouth Mobility 320. Then, he finished an unbelievable second behind Mike McLaughlin in the...
Casey Atwood is on his way to becoming a household name. By Shawn A. Akers
LAS VEGAS (March 1, 1999) First, Casey Atwood won the Bud Pole for the 1998 BellSouth Mobility 320. Then, he finished an unbelievable second behind Mike McLaughlin in the annual NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division event at Nashville Speedway USA, in only his second career series start.
Still, many pondered the same question: Casey who?
Not many are asking that anymore. The 18-year-old Atwood is no longer just Tennessee's best-kept racing secret.
In less than two years Atwood has been able to land a major deal in the NASCAR Busch Series with a major team and a major sponsor. He has also proven that he can not only qualify well (he already has two career NASCAR Busch Series Bud Poles in 19 starts), but that he can also run up front with consistency.
Now, Atwood returns to his home race track of Nashville Speedway USA for this Saturday's BellSouth Mobility 320, but the driver of the No. 27 Brewco Motorsports Castrol GTX Chevrolet won't be able to surprise anybody anymore.
"The fans and the media have high expectations for me this weekend," the native of nearby Antioch, Tenn., said. "But a win at Nashville Speedway is not easy. It would be great to get my first (NASCAR Busch Series) career win at Nashville, but I realize there are 42 other guys who want the same thing.
"I just want to come away with a good run for Castrol GTX and Brewco. A win would just be icing on the cake."
Atwood cut his racing teeth on the .596-mile, high-banked Nashville Speedway USA oval. By the age of 16, he had collected a dozen wins at the storied race track located on the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
With that in mind, winning the Bud Pole for last year's BellSouth Mobility 320 didn't come as a surprise to him, and racing against series veteran McLaughlin for the victory in that event didn't, either.
"This is what I've wanted to do my whole life," Atwood said after last year's race. "I knew I had a good car, a car capable of winning the pole. In a race like this, there would be more pressure starting at the back of the field. Starting up front is the safest place to be.
"I've been around this track a lot in the last few years, so I'm not surprised at how well we finished. It was great."
"He's (Atwood) been tough everywhere," McLaughlin said. "He's one of the young and talented kids coming up through the series right now. He knows that race track and he knows how to get around it well. He's definitely one of the favorites this weekend, but he's got a lot of good competition, too."
The entire Castrol GTX team hopes it will be up the task this weekend in Nashville.
"We feel like we have a good car for this weekend," said co-crew chief Jason Ratcliff. "The Castrol GTX crew has worked hard getting ready for this race. We have a lot of family, friends and fans in and around Nashville, and it would be nice to be able to put on a good show for them."
Source: NASCAR Online