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NASCAR BGN: Atwood Continues to Improve During Strong Rookie Campaign

11 November 1998

HAMPTON, Ga. - Casey Atwood led 28 laps of the Stihl 300 and narrowly missed the top 10 as he piloted the LYSOL Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday.

"I had fun," Atwood said of his first racing experience at the 1.54-mile track. "This race was a lot different than what I am used too. I liked using the air and hydraulics to get around the other guys and this LYSOL Chevrolet was a fast car today."

Atwood, who qualified 36th, immediately charged to the front of the line and cracked the top 10 by the first caution of the day on lap 72. The next caution flag dropped 25 laps later and Atwood stayed on track while the other teams pitted for gas. "We didn't pit because we knew we couldn't make it the rest of the way on fuel," said crew chief/owner Jeff Hensley. "We knew that if we wait to pit after lap 117, we could go the distance." So Atwood took the lead on lap 98 and continued to lead for the next 28 laps.

Atwood was running the high line when he grazed the wall in turn two and fell behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. to second place on lap 126. There was no extensive damage to the LYSOL Chevrolet and Atwood continued to fight his way back to the front. The fourth caution came out on lap 130 and the LYSOL Racing team was in ninth position. Full of fuel and ready to go, Atwood climbed to eighth but battled with Phil Parsons, Michael Waltrip and Kenny Schrader with only 10 laps remaining.

"I wanted a top-10 finish for this team so bad," Atwood said. "The car began to tighten up the last 10 laps of the race, but I still feel good about our 11th-place finish. I am very thankful that Jeff has given me the chance to run with his team and get the experience I need for next year."

"I can't say enough for the great job Casey has done for us," Hensley said. "He is a real spark plug and has turned our program around. He is a fantastic kid and a smart racecar driver with quite a career ahead of him." Reckitt & Colman, maker of LYSOL cleaning products, has been donating money to The Children's Health Fund (CHF) based on the LYSOL Chevrolet's top-20 finishes. As a result of the 11th place finish, Reckitt & Colman will donate $1,500 to CHF, bringing the total contribution to $21,000.

The final race in the Busch Series will be next week at Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 15.