Daytona 500: Elliott "Speedweeks" preview

"I haven't reached the point where I am content to watch this race on television. If I'm sitting on the couch, I can't win the Daytona 500 again."     Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts ...

"I haven't reached the point where I am content to watch this race on television. If I'm sitting on the couch, I can't win the Daytona 500 again."
    Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet

ELLIOTT NOT READY FOR COUCH POTATO ROUTE

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2006) -- Bill Elliott, a two-time champion of the Daytona 500, returns to the fabled race after a two-year absence.

Running a limited schedule the past two years, Elliott snapped a 24-year streak in 2004 of competing in the Great American Race.

Though he didn't drive in the 2004 Daytona 500, Elliott still found himself in the limelight at Daytona International Speedway. He was the first person to meet President George W. Bush on pit road before the 500 and then proceeded to introduce the most powerful man in the world to the drivers.

"That was a neat deal," recalled Elliott. "Of all the things I've ever done to fill a void, that probably did it and then some."

The following year was different. Elliott was back home in North Georgia watching the race on a big-screen television.

"I haven't reached the point where I am content to watch this race on television," said Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup champion. "If I'm sitting on the couch, I can't win the Daytona 500 again."

Thanks to Jay Frye, CEO and general manager at MB2 Motorsports, Elliott is not planning to be a couch potato when the green flag drops Feb. 19 for NASCAR's biggest race. If all goes according to plan in qualifying, he will be driving the MB2-prepared No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet.

"Well, Jay kind of pushed me over the edge on this," explained Elliott. "I know his wife Danielle real well, and I think she threatened me with bodily harm, so I said, well, I'd better go do it. It was just an opportunity and the (MB2) cars have run well here in the past. I thought, hey, what the heck, we'll give it a shot and see if we can get in the 500 and do some good."

When asked if he can win the Daytona 500 at 50 years-old, Elliott was quick to answer. "I feel like I can, I really do. And I feel MB2 has the equipment to do it."

In his first appearance in the MB2 Chevy (Jan. 8), Elliott was awesome. Led by crew chief Frank Stoddard, he posted the fastest speed in the first day of preseason testing at Daytona.

"I stepped in to an already good deal -- MB2 has a history of fast superspeedway cars," said Elliott, who has not driven a General Motors car since October of 1979. "Doing well in a test session is one thing. You have to do it when it counts and I feel confident that we'll get the job done."

Elliott will be joined in Daytona by MB2 drivers Joe Nemechek (U.S. Army Chevrolet) and Sterling Marlin (Waste Management Chevrolet). Marlin is also a two-time winner of the 500 (1994 & 1995).

"You need experience for this race and we have that," said Elliott. "Both Sterling and Joe are good on the big tracks and having them as teammates gives us added potential."

The last time Elliott and Marlin were teammates for the 500 (1992), the twosome sat on the front row in cars owned by Junior Johnson. Marlin edged out Elliott for the top starting spot.

Elliott has competed in 25 Daytona 500 races. Along with his two wins from the pole in 1985 and 1987, his Daytona 500 record includes nine top fives, 14 top 10s and four poles. He shares the record for most Daytona 500 poles with Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough.

Elliott will also drive the No. 36 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet in Saturday's (Feb. 11) Budweiser Shootout, an invitational race for 2005 pole winners and past Shootout champions. Elliott earned the automatic berth as a result of winning the Shootout in 1987.

-mb2-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Junior Johnson , Buddy Baker , Cale Yarborough