Elliott, Woods Battle Back from Three Laps Down to Finish 23rd at Atlanta September 6, 2010 - A loose-handling race car and long green-flag runs are a frustrating combination for a NASCAR race team. But Bill Elliott and the crew of the No. 21 ...
Elliott, Woods Battle Back from Three Laps Down to Finish 23rd at Atlanta
September 6, 2010 - A loose-handling race car and long green-flag runs are a frustrating combination for a NASCAR race team. But Bill Elliott and the crew of the No. 21 FordParts.com Ford Fusion hung tough, overcame both of them and made up a deficit that grew to three laps at one point to finish 23rd in Sunday's Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Elliott started the race in 40th place after a disappointing qualifying run, and the team had planned to use early race pit stops to fine-tune the chassis.
But the race opened with 133 straight laps of green-flag racing. Elliott moved up six positions initially, but by the time he had completed his first green-flag pit stop he was a lap down but still within two cars of getting the Lucky Dog free pass.
The green flag continued to fly, and the breaks didn't fall the Woods' way initially as Elliott continued to struggle with a loose-handling condition.
On Lap 239, race leader and eventual winner Tony Stewart put Elliott three laps down, but from there the Wood Brothers crew reached into their bag of pit-strategy tricks and began regaining the lost ground.
With 27 laps to go, Elliott rejoined the lead lap. The move up from the rear of the pack caught the attention of the ESPN crew covering the race, and they pointed out to their viewers the surge of the blue-and-white FordParts.com Fusion.
Elliott held on over the closing laps to finish 17 positions better than he started.
It was his third straight top-25 finish.
We're still struggling some," Elliott said. "We're not that bad; we just need to be better.
The car just didn't roll through the center of the corner well enough to run like we want to." Elliott had a few close calls during the race but managed to steer clear each time.
His closest brush with disaster came when Scott Speed blew an engine in front of him on Lap 265.
"I was in that melee a little bit," he said.
Elliott and the Wood Brothers team return to the circuit on Oct. 3 for the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway.