|Highly successful in drag, endurance, touring and
truck racing, Dodge has been absent from the Winston Cup Series for more than two decades.
Today's inaugural on-track test session follows the decision announced last October that
Dodge will return to NASCAR's top stock car series at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
the Dodge Intrepid R/T on the track for the first time was an emotional moment for
me," said Lou Patane, Vice President, Dodge Motorsports Operations and Mopar
"When you start a program and grow it from its infancy to a point where it becomes
a reality, it does touch you emotionally," he said. "And when I see the effort
all the people put in from the team side and from the company side to get us to this
milestone and this is only one of many milestones we will accomplish it does
give you a special feeling."
Witnessing the event with Patane were more than a dozen Dodge dealers, representing
their 3,000 colleagues across North America, and officials of the United Auto Workers
(UAW) union. The dealers will be the primary sponsors of two of the seven Dodge Intrepid
R/T race cars scheduled to compete in Winston Cup racing next year.
The UAW National Training Center is an associate sponsor of the Evernham Motorsports
Test driver Kyle Petty also admitted that emotions were high today as the Dodge and
Petty names came together again in a Winston Cup program. The wins of Petty's father and
late grandfather, Richard and Lee, respectively, comprised a large portion of Dodge's 160
Winston Cup victories.
In addition to his driving duties, Petty is chief executive officer of Petty
Enterprises, one of three teams that have announced they will race with Dodge Intrepid
R/Ts in 2001. The others are Evernham Motorsports and Bill Davis Racing. All three teams
were present at the track today with Dodge engineers. All are sharing the information
Leading the Dodge development effort is champion crew chief and team owner Ray
Evernham. Bill Davis, owner of Bill Davis Racing, echoed Evernham's comments about speed
not being the critical factor. Dodge officials and the team owners commented repeatedly
about the all of the various entities operating as combined Dodge operation.When the Dodge
Test Car is put back in the hauler tonight, there will be 291 days left to prepare for the
Daytona 500 in 2001.
(May 3, 2000)