Buddy Baker was not only one...
Buddy Baker was not only one of the few to spin in a winged Dodge, but also the first NASCAR driver to surpass the milestone of 200mph. Lighthearted Baker was at the Dodge Press Announcement at Talladega and was even singled out as a driver for Evernham's team, which he politely asked not to be considered for.
As for the focus of DaimlerChrysler engineers, Dodge Motorsports, and Mopar Performance, Patane said in his opening remarks, "We believe racing should give us opportunities beyond the race track. That's why the goal of all of our motorsports programs has always been threefold. To help develop products better and faster. To explore new technologies for future products for our customers. To give our engineers valuable training in the pressure-packed environment of motorsports."
"In meeting these three goals," Patane continued, "our motorsports programs have become an important part of our product development process in Auburn Hills today. Stronger, stiffer platforms; more efficient engines; and improved braking and steering systems are just some of the small things we can attribute [to our motorsports] involvement over the past five years." Patane went on to note that engineers would be involved in the NASCAR effort by evaluating and acquiring data in the fast-paced environment of Winston Cup competition.
As for the question that every Mopar fan is interested in, Evernham showed his enthusiasm and ability to have fun with the press. Evernham was asked if a young driver with a distinct family background in Chrysler racing was being considered as a candidate for a driver spot. Ray respectfully recognized Dodge racing dignitaries in attendance. "Well, I have Buddy Baker and Richard Brickhouse here today and those two guys are first on my list. They both won races in Dodges and they are probably the first two guys I'm going to look at. They are both here and available."
Baker responded, "I'd like to withdraw at this time."
With a more serious tone regarding testing and driving, Evernham said, "As for testing, we don't have drivers lined up for that yet, but then again, driver applications will come in and Dodge already has many very good drivers under their employ in the Craftsman Truck Series. We look forward to get that going and by the time that we have a car we hope to have a lot of resums for drivers."
While speculation about Evernham's drivers was clearly a hot topic, it was also clear that more than one team of Intrepids will be encouraged to participate. Surely, the Evernham team is the first priority, but other Dodge teams will likely be fielded. The answer to whether Petty Enterprises will be fielding a No. 43 Intrepid will have to be answered later-or will it?
"It was a well kept secret....
"It was a well kept secret. But I tried to give you as many hints as I could. I was dodging questions. I kept saying 'It's time to do something different.'"Everyone asked why I wanted to leave. A warrior needs an ultimate challenge and to be able to come back to the sport with Dodge and become a team owner is a challenge, but it is the American dream. I am given a great opportunity to do that by being part of the Dodge Dealer Association."The racer in me is dying to get to work. Yesterday I had 492 days, now I have 491. I need to start. To get to work. We have a starting point. We have a goal-the Daytona 500 in 2001, and we are working on our road map to get there. I sincerely appreciate what the Dodge people have done in giving me this opportunity."
Dodge Intrepid Winston Cup Team