Talladega: Bill Elliott preview

BILL ELLIOTT NO. 9 DODGE DEALERS INTREPID R/T Racing At Talladega "The problem is that Talladega is a place where the restrictor plate forces you into doing things that you shouldn't be doing. You start cutting people off. People take it...

BILL ELLIOTT NO. 9 DODGE DEALERS INTREPID R/T

Racing At Talladega

"The problem is that Talladega is a place where the restrictor plate forces you into doing things that you shouldn't be doing. You start cutting people off. People take it for awhile, the guy gets mad and he ain't going to take it anymore. It puts you in a bad situation. That's the one thing that's always tough about going to Talladega, especially in today's scenario. NASCAR has tried to change things around over from what it was last year. I like this a little bit better with what they've got, but whether we need to tweak it around more, we'll know more after this weekend. I think Daytona was a good race for 'em, but we'll just have to see what happens."

Improvements To Restrictor Plate Racing

"I would look at something a little different. From the standpoint of what could you do to make it better for everybody? That's where you'd have to sit down and get it across the board. You've had people who say we need to take banking out of the tracks, people say we need to put it all back the way it was. I would look at taking some of the banking out of the race track. Then you wouldn't have to build specialty cars for two races a year as far as your restrictor plate stuff. Then you'd have an across the board deal. I'd try to make everything constant where you'd have to go down in the corner and after a period of time lift. Whether you took downforce out of the car, or whether you changed the way you did your stuff. Whether you put a lot of motor in it or you did something different to make it where you had to back off when you got in the corners. That seems to be the determining factor. Most of our races have got to the point, even Texas and Atlanta, have got to be where you run the corner pretty hard and it's a shorter race track. You can only run the corner so hard for so long, then you've got to change the way you do it."

Thoughts On Running The Fastest Lap At Talladega

"I was hoping I'd run faster (when he ran 212 mph in '87). I thought we had a car capable of running faster than that. I still say my most impressive thing was running 210 at Daytona because Daytona was so much more a handling, tougher race track to run 210 there as it was to run 213 at Talladega. Talladega had the capability of running a lot faster. I went over there in a car that we did for Ford for Lynn St. James at that time and I think I ran 218, and it had potential to run even faster and the track had potential for more. Unrestricted, these cars today, with the technology they've got today, they'd be running in the 220s relatively easy."

Race notes

* Winston Cup veteran Dick Trickle will drive the No. 91 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T fielded by Evernham Motorsports in the Talladega 500 this weekend. Trickle tested the car at Talladega as a research and development operation for Evernham Motorsports. At this time, there are no plans for Evernham Motorsports to field the car in any upcoming races.

Stats & Facts

* This will be Elliott's 51st start at Talladega Superspeedway, marking the most times Elliott has ever started in a "points-race" at any track on the NASCAR circuit. In his 50 starts at Talladega, Elliott has two wins, 10 top fives and 22 top-10 finishes. He has started in the top five in his last four visits to the track.

* Elliott holds Talladega track records for the fastest qualifying time (212.809 mph, 44.998 seconds, April 30, 1987) and for the most poles by any active driver (eight). He has earned six straight pole positions at the track from 1985 to 1987, and went on to win the first and last of those six races - his only wins at the track. Elliott's most recent pole was earned in the fall Talladega race of 1993.

* If Elliott finishes in the top 10 this weekend, it will mark his 298th top-10 finish through 26 years of racing.

* In last fall's race at Talladega, Elliott was looking for his third victory at the 2.66-mile tri-oval after he rolled off the grid in fifth place. It was his 18th top five start at the superspeedway. The Georgia native kept his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T out of trouble and avoided major on-track incidents until a last lap melee put him in 20th place. In the spring race of 2001, Elliott started third and led the race before running out of gas with 89 laps to go - he finished 32nd on the day.

* In last week's race at Martinsville, Elliott nearly put the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T on the pole during Friday's qualifying session. His sixth-place qualifying run was his best at the track since April 1996 when he started third. Elliott and the Dodge Squad ran with the leaders until he reported trouble with the front brakes more than 170 laps into the 500-lap race. Elliott was forced to pit to alleviate the problem and had to play catch up with the field, finishing five laps down. He ended the day in 31st place and slipped three spots in the Winston Cup points race to 13th, 86 points out of the top 10.

* Elliott's pole position this year at Texas was his second of the year (Atlanta), and third in the span of 10 races - dating back to the November 11 race at Homestead/Miami last year. It was Elliott's 53rd career Bud Pole in 668 Winston Cup races, placing him third behind David Pearson (57) and Darrell Waltrip (59) in Modern-era Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers).

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