Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Heinz/Ore-Ida Ford Fusion, is back racing for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing after a four-week break. Elliott, who is scheduled to start 35th in tomorrow night's Bank of America 500, spoke about the benefits of...
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Heinz/Ore-Ida Ford Fusion, is back racing for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing after a four-week break. Elliott, who is scheduled to start 35th in tomorrow night's Bank of America 500, spoke about the benefits of racing on a part-time basis.
BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Heinz/Ore-Ida Ford Fusion
IS THE NICE THING ABOUT THIS KIND OF SCHEDULE IS YOU CAN COME AND GO AS YOU PLEASE? "I really stayed around longer than I thought and what Eddie and I originally talked about, but it's fun to come and do this deal. Sometimes you get caught in that old rut if you stay too long, so it's good to get away for a period of time and then come back. I still enjoy racing. I still enjoy the guys. They're a lot of fun to be around and a lot of fun to race for, and I just hope we can do some good."
DALE JARRETT ANNOUNCED TODAY HE WAS GOING TO CUT BACK FROM A FULL-TIME SCHEDULE NEXT YEAR. YOU KIND OF STARTED THE PART-TIME ROUTINE, DO YOU SEE THAT TREND CONTINUING? "It might to a point. We're kind of the older generation and I think the older generation can probably do it. It's just a point where you hear Jeff Gordon and a lot of guys talk about when they walk away, they're just gonna go and that's it. Rusty pretty much did it. He said that he wasn't driving anything else anymore and that was it. For me, it's just hard to quit cold turkey. I would just as soon rather work my way into doing stuff. Like I said, I still enjoy coming to the race track. I still have a lot of friends in the garage area and there are still a lot of people I like to see and keep up with and see how they're doing. This gives me the opportunity to do that, but what I end up doing the next few years, I don't know at this point in time. I'll just kind of figure it out and go from there."
SO IS IT SAFE TO SAY YOU GUYS STILL LOVE TO RACE? "The problem is that in this sport to deal with the pressure week in and week out gets unbearable a lot of times. The problem is that if you go through and you have a good stretch and everything is running good and clicking along, you can overlook a lot of things, but when things start going bad and you've got a family, you're away from home a lot, you're testing a lot, you're doing sponsor commitments and fan commitments, it's about more than you can bear. It just gets to a point where, 'Hey, I need a timeout. I've got to go clear my head and start over again.' You used to be able to do that over the winter, but now there's so much pressure year round that it's hard to do. I think if you look at the whole scenario of the way this sport has grown and what you have to put up with to go through it, it's so much harder. I keep telling guys that in the eighties there was about 12 of us that worked on the car -- in '85 -- that was in shop and motor shop, but, there again, it was only 28 races and they were mainly on the east coast and the southeast. You worked 24/7, but yet certain things weren't taken as far as they are today. For example, today you've got to have two or three shock specialists. You've got to have a spring specialist. You've got to have all kinds of specialists, whereas years ago you used to go down to the shock truck and got four shocks, and you went over to Banjo's and you got four springs and you went and raced. But today, everybody is trying to fine-tune and find that one part that will make the difference. That's where the sport has gone. Everybody talks about the car of tomorrow and how it's gonna equal things out and how it's gonna do all this stuff, but the results are still the same. You've still got the guys who spend the most money winning the most races, period."
THE CHAMPIONSHIP DOMINATES THE WHOLE SEASON, BUT FOR GUYS LIKE YOU THAT ARE PART-TIME, IT'S STILL ABOUT WINNING INDIVIDUAL RACES, ISN'T IT? "I think they've tried to make the championship headlines every week. I think for the most part, from our side as racers, you do the best you can and wherever it ends up, it ends up. The sad part is that if you're not in the top 10 last year or top 12 this year -- at the end of the day -- for the last 10 races -- you might as well not exist."
-credit: ford racing