The next four photos show an early mock-up of the Intrepid that Dodge will be campaigning
The return of Dodge to Winston Cup in 2001 is led by some of stock car racing's biggest an
Buckshot Jones joins fellow Dodge drivers John Andretti and Kyle Petty as they turn laps f
"Good car, good equipment, good motor . . . I think we got a good combination," said Stac
Ward Burton ended Dodges Winston Cup absence at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday when he drove his No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T onto the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval to kick off the first day of Dodges two-day manufacturer Winston Cup test in preparation for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.
Dodge is making its return to NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition after a long layoff with the 43rd running of the Daytona 500. The last time a Dodge was entered in the Daytona 500 was back in 1982 when Buddy Arrington finished 15th. The last time a Dodge was in the Pepsi 400 was also in 1982 with Arrington finishing 12th.
The 10 teams in attendance for the two-day Dodge test session included Evernham Motorsports (Bill Elliott, Casey Atwood), Petty Enterprises (John Andretti, Buckshot Jones and Kyle Petty), Bill Davis Racing (Burton, Dave Blaney), Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (Sterling Marlin and Jason Leffler) and Melling Racing (Stacy Compton).
"Were just trying to get baselines," said Burton, who turned the seventh and 11th fastest laps during the first day of the test. "We got one car here that were doing a little bit of aero stuff on and the other were doing a little bit of chassis stuff on. Were not really trying to go fast right now; were just trying to learn."
Two-time Daytona 500 champion Bill Elliott was the fastest after the first day of the test posting a lap of 180.574 mph in his No. 9a Dodge Intrepid R/T. Elliott also posted the sixth fastest lap in the No. 9b with a lap of 178.525 mph.
"Some of the gains you make here are small gains," said Elliotts crew chief Mike Ford. "You want to be real meticulous in your changes." While Elliott was the fastest, his Evernham Motorsports teammate Casey Atwood was battling for speed. The 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year candidate posted the 12th and 14th fastest laps in the test session.
"All and all it was a pretty good day," Atwood said. "We had some trouble with the one car. It was hitting the track (bottoming out.) Bills car was really fast and now we have something to go back and look on and hopefully get ours better when we come back."
Said owner and Dodge lead developer Ray Evernham of the two-day test: "Its really important. Obviously, its the first time we get to be with the other Dodges. Everybody is trying to go fast. Right now, one car seems to be pretty good and the rookie car is struggling a little bit. Weve just got to see if we can get them a little bit closer together."
Second fastest was Melling Racing driver Stacy Compton, who turned a lap of 180.169 mph in his No. 92 Kodiak Dodge Intrepid R/T. "Good car, good equipment, good motor . . . I think we got a good combination," Compton said. "Were pretty excited about the way we unloaded. We got a little ground to gain still, but we got another day. We tried a lot of things today. We made a lot of changes and learned a lot of things. People say these Dodges are a lot like Fords. They dont react nothing like a Ford. We tried a lot of stuff that we tried last year and nothing seemed work as far as thats concerned." Dodge teams are hoping to do some drafting in their second day of testing
"We drafted a little bit at Talladega," said Marlin, who got the chance to work with his new Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Jason Leffler. "It doesnt matter to me one way or the other."
Quotes from the second and final Winston Cup manufacturer test session at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 17, 2001
Ray Evernham, owner of the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T driven by Bill Elliott and the No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T driven by Casey Atwood.
ON YOUR SPEEDS
"Weve got to pickup. Look, no complaints. Weve got work to do and were going to do it. Like I said yesterday, Ive left Daytona before being a half second behind. We just have more work to do. These things are still made out of metal. You can cut them and grind on them and change the shape of them. The motor guys are hammering. All and all, for a new car, new engine unloaded, were doing OK."
COULD YOU USE MORE TIME
"Everybody says, Do you want 500 more days? I dont want 500 more, but I could use 50. A race car never gets done until its time to go. Were probably a half second off from where we need to be. If we can get some of that back, which well probably do, Ill feel good about.
ON THE TEAM CONCEPT
"More so today. When everybody is a little slow, you tend to work together a lot more than with one guy really fast. Dodge is leading the one-team concept. Theyve got people networking. Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises have a close relationship and that will continue to grow. I dont think theres a real big spread between us and hopefully that will show everybody were working together."
ANY SURPRISES NOW THAT YOURE HERE AT DAYTONA
"We didnt really see surprises. When you come to Daytona, its horsepower and drag. We know what we were on the dyno. We know what we were in the wind tunnel and we knew that we would be running the speeds that were running."
"Were going to Talladega for sure. I dont know if we have any wind tunnel time left before we come back for the 500. If we do have some, we probably need to start using that on our downforce stuff. Were going to go to Talladega, I think the 26th and 27th, and run some more cars." "The most Im looking forward to about the next 31 days is when the green flag drops for the Daytona 500, I get to smash that clock and the countdown is over."
Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T
ON THE CAR
"Its a lot better. Weve picked up our car quite a bit. Were gaining on it every time we go out."
Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 93 Amoco Dodge Intrepid R/T
PROGRESS OF THE TEST
"Were getting there. We havent thrown everything weve got at it. Were gaining and thats the main thing."
HOW HARD ARE YOU WORKING?
"You cant learn unless you get out there on the race track.
ON THE TWO CARS HES RUNNING
One car is testing motor-related things, the other car is (testing the body).