ATLANTA (November 13, 2001) - Fireworks, a cake and dozens of fans greeted Bill Elliott as he stepped off his plane Sunday night after capturing his 51st Winston Cup victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thousands of fans will get the chance to...
ATLANTA (November 13, 2001) - Fireworks, a cake and dozens of fans greeted Bill Elliott as he stepped off his plane Sunday night after capturing his 51st Winston Cup victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thousands of fans will get the chance to show their support for the Georgia native when Elliott makes a homecoming appearance this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Last weekend Elliott found his way to the top spot twice. In a late race run to the front, the 26-year veteran captured his 41st career victory from the pole position, accomplishing the feat for the 16th time in his career. Elliott's first win in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T was his first victory in seven years, and was the first-ever win for Ray Evernham as team owner of Evernham Motorsports.
Elliott and the No. 9 crew will make career start number 50 at Atlanta Motor Speedway this Sunday, tying a personal career mark for most appearances at a single track (Charlotte and Talladega). The "hometown" track has been kind to Elliott. He leads all active drivers at Atlanta with four poles and five wins. The 1.5-mile track ranks second to Michigan in number of career victories for the Winston Cup veteran. He leads all active drivers at Atlanta with four poles and five wins. Fireworks may fly again when Elliott looks to add to that total in front of his hometown fans.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
Last week's win must have been an incredible feeling, how did it feel for you?
"Well, the sirens were going off for about 30 minutes at the Dawsonville Pool Hall. Yes, this win was good in a lot of ways. As we're winding down in the season, it helps the team with our attitudes towards racing. And it's good for the fans around here who are supporting you day-in and day-out. It's pretty exciting for all of us. I came into the airport at about 11 o'clock on Sunday and had about 30 people waiting for me. They were there waiting with a cake. I was still so excited that when they handed the cake to me I dropped the thing right there on the concrete."
How does it feel to be returning to your hometown track in Atlanta?
"It's going to be great (going to Atlanta). I haven't run well with the new configuration at Atlanta, but I haven't run well down here either until this time. With Mike and these guys behind me, it just makes me drive that much harder. The effort we put in means a lot for this race team. We've really worked hard at being able to work well together."
This will be your 50th career start at Atlanta. How do you prepare for a race like this?
"Casey tested there so we're hoping to learn something from what he was able to do. We're going to rely on what the engineers and Sammy Johns learned off the No. 19 deal. We're running a different car there, so you really don't know what to expect. Two weeks ago we tested at Miami and were terrible there. But then we unload and setup last weekend and take the pole and end up winning the race. You just never know what to expect."
Bill Elliott By the Numbers
* This weekend's race marks Elliott's 50th career start at Atlanta. He has four poles, five wins, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at the track. His total of 50 starts will mark the most times Elliott has visited a single track. He leads all active drivers at Atlanta with four poles and five wins. The 1.5-mile track ranks second to Michigan (seven) on Elliott's all time career win list in number of career victories for the Winston Cup veteran. In his last visit to the track Elliott started 24th, but a slight engine problem prevented him from staying in the top 15. Elliott finished 16th on the day.
* Last weekend at Homestead Elliott, gave Ray Evernham his first win as a team owner, and took advantage of a late caution to pull off the win. It is his first visit to victory lane since September 4, 1994. Elliott started the race from the pole. It was his 51st career pole and his second of the season. He led 59 laps on the day giving him 171 total for the year.
* Elliott's win from pole at Homestead was the 16th of his career, and his first time to accomplish the feat since 1992 at Richmond's spring race. The last time a Dodge won a race from pole was also in Atlanta, in March of 1977 when Richard Petty won the Atlanta 500.
* Bill Elliott has been in the top 15 for about two-thirds of the season, and within the top 20 for the entire year. His average start is 14th and his average finish is 20th. Elliott has one win, two poles, five top fives and nine top 10s on the year - his best overall output since 1994 when he won his last race prior to 2001 and finished tenth in the championship points standings.
* With $3,189,675 in official earnings this year, Elliott has broken his career-high yearly earnings record of $2,580,823 from last year. His win at Homestead earned him his third largest purse and makes him the leader in total winnings for all Dodge drivers in 2001. After finishing eighth at Indy, Elliott became the first Dodge driver in history to break the $2 million earnings mark in a single season.