Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion and 1988 NASCAR champion, has won 40 races in a Ford in his career, most among active drivers and second only to Ned Jarrett (43) on the manufacturer's all-time list. Elliott has...
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion and 1988 NASCAR champion, has won 40 races in a Ford in his career, most among active drivers and second only to Ned Jarrett (43) on the manufacturer's all-time list. Elliott has competed in 19 races for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team this year, and qualified 15th for this weekend's season-ending Ford 400. Elliott and team co-owner Len Wood talked about the changes in testing next year, and Elliott also reminisced about testing in the old days.
WITH YESTERDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING TESTING NEXT YEAR, HOW WILL THAT AFFECT A SINGLE-CAR TEAM LIKE THE WOOD BROTHERS? "It's going to put more emphasis on simulations. It's going to put more of an emphasis on track simulation, who comes up with the best program to make all that work -- that's kind of what I see. You know, if they cut it down to two-day weekends, that's going to put even more of a premium on that."
HOW BIG WAS TESTING WHEN YOU STARTED? "You could test anywhere, any time. We'd go to Atlanta the week before and run a couple of days. What we'd always do, before we went to Daytona, we'd go to Talladega and run a day, and then we'd go to Daytona. So, we'd go to Talladega, tweak our stuff around and then go into Daytona. But, back then you only ran 28 races."
WHAT TYPES OF THINGS WERE YOU LOOKING AT DURING THOSE TEST SESSIONS? WAS IT MORE ABOUT "FEEL," OR WAS THERE DATA ACQUISITION OF SOME SORT? "We didn't even know what a computer was back in those days. You went on trial and error. Old racers, that's what they do, trial and error, because you didn't have the computers and the data and all the engineers."
YOU HAVE OFTEN MENTIONED THE STRIDES WOOD BROTHERS RACING HAVE MADE THIS YEAR. WHATARE SOME OF THE ELEMENTS THAT YOU LOOK AT? "Before, if I went by the first part of the season, we struggled to make races, and we weren't even a 43rd-place car when we got in races. Now, there are points in times that if we could've taken the data from the second half of the year and shifted it back to the first half and had that data to turn around and use for the second half, I think we could've been a lot more knowledgeable of where we needed to be. Those are the things that I've said 100 times, you go to Atlanta and you say, 'Okay, what did we run here in the spring? Oh, we didn't make the race here in the spring.' So, you have no way of judging or things were so much different in the spring. Now that this group -- David [Hyder, crew chief] and Dean [Johnson, shock specialist] and Hoyt [Overbagh, engineer] -- has kind of taken this thing in and really brought a lot of things together. It's made the car more consistent as far as what I'm feeling. We've just got to get the little parts and pieces together, because it seems like there's points and times in the race that we finally get to running pretty good, and we've been kind of hot and cold."
IS THERE A DISCERNABLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHERE THIS TEAM IS NOW, HEADING INTO NEXT YEAR'S DAYTONA 500, COMPARED TO WHERE IT WAS A YEAR AGO, HEADING INTO THIS YEAR'S DAYTONA 500? "Yeah, there's no doubt about that. I think it could be light-years ahead."
LEN WOOD -- co-owner, No 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion
HOW WILL THE CHANGE IN TESTING RULES AFFECT A SINGLE-CAR TEAM LIKE THIS ONE? WILL IT AFFECT ALL TEAMS EQUALLY? "I won't call it an equalizer. It was a very good move by NASCAR, with the economic times the way they are. We were talking about spending under the newly proposed plan, 24 days, up to four cars per test, it was going to cost each team probably a minimum of a million dollars. Now, it was time for a correction, and that was a very good start for it. Will it even it up? Not really. Multi-car teams could still gather more information during a race, get things quicker. But, the Car of Tomorrow, there are some changes for next year, but it will be pretty much the same car we've got this year. We're making refinements and changes as we go. We'll still be doing stuff like seven-post testing -- it doesn't require all the travel and stuff. We'll focus more on simulations and things like that, which is something that Ford is providing us."
-credit: ford racing