Atlanta II: Bill Elliott preveiw

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T RACING AT ATLANTA "Atlanta has been a good race track. We had a good run there in the spring. We ended up in a little mishap there way early in the race. I said earlier that the new design has been...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T

RACING AT ATLANTA

"Atlanta has been a good race track. We had a good run there in the spring. We ended up in a little mishap there way early in the race. I said earlier that the new design has been very good to me. We came there in the spring and were able to sit on the pole. Mike (crew chief Ford) and all the guys have worked hard. I think that's what was more disappointing Sunday than anything. We had an awful good race car, and it's the best I'd been at Martinsville in a long time. It's disappointing for the guys as hard as they've worked and as much effort as they've put in not to be able to finish up and end up as bad as we did Sunday."

IMPORTANCE OF THE RACE IN '92

"The only thing we didn't do was win the championship, but we came close. Looking at that day, I won the race. Gordon started and Petty ended. It was a big day. I look at Alan the next year and how bad he struggled the first few races. He was still trying to do it himself. He had the load of the Winston Cup Championship on his shoulders. He was trying to please everybody and still do it the way he'd been doing it. That's the way I classified myself in the late 80s and early 90s. I eventually had to quit working on the race car and doing the part of doing the promotional stuff and driving the car. There was no room to do everything and be successful at it."

GETTING AROUND AT ATLANTA

"Atlanta has definitely changed since the redesign in 92 or 93 or whenever they changed it around. The biggest thing today is as it's aged since the change, it's gotten a lot more raceable. You'll see guys run the bottom, middle, top, kind of like it used to be. That's going to be the key deal today, who can get it worked out. Some guys might be better getting in the corner, and some guys might be better getting off the corner. I don't know at any of these places if there's any one key area, take Atlanta for an example, that's any better or any worse to pass. It depends on how well you've got your car working. If you're better than the guy getting in the corner and you can beat him in the corner or if you're better up off the corner you can beat him up off the corner. That's the thing about Atlanta to me. Atlanta is like Michigan and some of the other places. You can capitalize on somebody's weaknesses and it can work vice versa also. They can capitalize on your weaknesses."

GETTING AROUND ATLANTA- MIKE FORD

"We went down and tested (at Atlanta) the beginning of October. I think we had a really good test. We concentrated for two straight days on race setup. Obviously we went down and sat on the pole, but we didn't race quite as well as we'd like to. I feel like we had a top 10 car, but we needed to improve on that. Things we've learned over the course of  the year will apply to Atlanta. We're looking forward to going there."

RACE NOTES

* Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge that he raced at Darlington in September when he finished third and at Dover in June when he finished second.

STATS & FACTS

* This weekend's race marks Elliott's 52nd career start at Atlanta.  He has five poles, five wins, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at the track.  Elliott's most recent victory at Atlanta came when he swept both of the 1992 races en route to a runner-up finish in the points championship.  Elliott's most recent pole at the track came in March when he earned his first pole of 2002 in the MBNA America 500. The pole was the Elliott's first pole at Atlanta since November 1991 and his 52nd career Bud Pole in 663 races.

* Elliott leads all active drivers at Atlanta with five poles and is tied among all active drivers for most wins at the track. His total of 52 starts at Atlanta will tie Elliott's record for most starts at a track (Charlotte, Talladega).  Atlanta, Pocono and Darlington rank second to Michigan (seven wins) as Elliott's winningest tracks.  Elliott made his second career Winston Cup Series start at Atlanta, March 21, 1976.  His first career start came less than a month earlier at North Carolina.

* In March's MBNA America 500 Elliott drove off from the top spot after thrilling the local crowd during Friday's qualifying session when he captured the pole with a speed of 191.542 mph in 28.944 seconds. The pole was his first since Homestead in November of 2001. Elliott stayed in the top five through the first cycle of pit stops. He and the Dodge Squad would spend the day making air pressure adjustments to correct for a tight car. Trouble in the pits on the last stop of the day sent the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T to the middle of the pack. He was collected in an incident on the track on lap 290 that caused extensive damage to the No. 9 Dodge, ending Elliott's strong run. He ended the day in 35th place.

* Last week at Martinsville, Elliott notched his 22nd top 10-qualifying run when he started his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge in third place. Elliott is tied with rookie Ryan Newman with the most top 10 starts this season. Elliott jumped out to second place on lap one. He would stay in the top five through the first sequence of pit stops as many of the cars back in the field elected to stay out. The No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge needed only slight air pressure adjustments throughout the day. Just past the midway point Elliott came into the pits where the Dodge Squad had to pull the fender off of the left front tire. The damage was due to contact with two cars that were spinning in front of him. Restarting in the 31st position, Elliott began picking off spots at the notoriously difficult-to-pass track. Less than 100 laps later, Elliott was back in the top-15. His shot at a top-10 finish faded when he was spun out on the track on lap 424. He is currently 11th in Winston Cup drivers points, slipping out of the top-10 for the first time since Pocono in June. Elliott is just 38 points out of the 10th position.

* Elliott has excelled on NASCAR's speedways this year.   Each of his 12 top-10 finishes in 2002 has come on tracks at least one mile in length. Nine of those top-10 finishes were earned on racetracks 1.5 miles or greater.  Elliott's two victories have come on two of the circuit's 2.5-mile tracks.

* Elliott looks even better in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T than he did after 32 races last year.  Elliott ranks four positions higher, is finishing more than four spots better and is starting nearly two spots better in each race in 2002.  He also has two more wins, three more poles, two more top-fives, four more top-10s and 163 more laps led than he did with four races to go in the 2001 season. 

* Elliott earned his fourth pole position of 2002 (Atlanta, Texas, New Hampshire) at Pocono in August.  It was Elliott's 55th career Bud Pole in his 679th Winston Cup race, placing him third behind David Pearson (57) and Darrell Waltrip (59) in Modern-era Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers and sixth all-time). 

* Elliott's win at Indianapolis was record-setting as no driver has won from the front row at the Brickyard 400.

* When Bill Elliott won the Pennsylvania 500, he became the all-time winningest driver at Pocono Raceway.  Driving the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, Elliott won his fifth race at the 2.5-mile track. It was also the first time this season that a driver had won from the pole.

* Elliott has 12 top-10s through 32 races in 2002, marking his best output since 1997 when he finished the season with 14 and ranked eighth in the points standings (his most recent top-10 finish in the points race).  Elliott earned a career-high 24 top-10s in 30 races in 1984, finishing third in the points standings.

* Elliott's wins at Pocono and Indianapolis were his best finishes since his Nov. 11th victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2001.  He has 43 victories in 27 seasons racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip , Ryan Newman , David Pearson