TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 11, 2000) -- When Bill Elliott takes the green flag for Sunday's (April 16) DieHard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, it will be his 600th career start in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. Elliott, who is celebrating his...
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 11, 2000) -- When Bill Elliott takes the green flag for Sunday's (April 16) DieHard 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, it will be his 600th career start in NASCAR Winston Cup racing.
Elliott, who is celebrating his 25th season as a driver on the Winston Cup circuit, will become the 12th driver overall and the sixth active driver to reach the 600-start milestone. He made his first career start, Feb. 29, 1976 at the Carolina 500 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.
"To me it's just another number," said Elliott, owner and driver of the No. 94 McDonald's Ford Taurus. "Whether it's 60 or 600, the fact is I can't believe it's been that many because it seems like only yesterday that I was in Rockingham for my first race. The big difference between then and now is the cars were pretty primitive back then compared to the ones we drive now. There used to be a three-second difference between the top and the bottom, now it's only two tenths. I've seen a lot of people come and go. I continue to do this for one simple reason - I enjoy driving a racecar."
Elliott's 600th-start milestone will come at a track where he has had memorable moments - some good and some not so good.
Elliott has won twice at Talladega - the 1985 July race and the 1987 October race. The victory in 1985 lifted Elliott's reputation to a new level when he came from nearly two laps down to defeat Kyle Petty (second) and Cale Yarborough (third).
Talladega's 2.66-mile oval was also the site of Elliott's record-breaking qualifying lap of 212.809 mph, set during the 1987 July race. The speed mark remains the fastest in Winston Cup history.
Elliott's other accomplishments at Talladega include: eight poles, 22 top 10s, 10 top fives and career earnings of $1,078.317.
On the downside, the 1996 April race at Talladega Superspeedway was where Elliott suffered a fractured left thighbone, forcing him to miss seven races and snapping a 395-consecutive start streak.
In describing the Talladega restrictor-plate race, Elliott said, "The closer it gets to the end and the more you keep all those cars on the lead lap, it's just like sitting on a time bomb or sitting in an electric chair with a kid playing with the switch and you're trying to get out. It's like the clock's ticking and the longer you go you know something's gonna happen. Then everybody gets more aggressive and a little hotter, and a little of this and a little of that and it finally happens."
Elliott career highlights include: the 1988 Winston Cup championship, 40 victories, 49 poles and earnings of more than $22 million. He has also won NASCAR's most popular driver award a record 14 times.
Notes: Elliott's 500th career start came at Bristol Motor Speedway, April 13, 1997...Elliott will be a guest on the QVC Network this Friday (April 14), beginning at 7 p.m. CDT... Elliott registered his fourth top-10 finish of the season with an eighth-place finish in last week's race in Martinsville. His best finish this season was third in the Daytona 500...He is in 13th place in the point standings.