LOUDON, N.H., (November 20, 2001) - After an exciting couple of weeks that saw Bill Elliott win his first Winston Cup race in seven years, the 26-year veteran heads to New Hampshire for a holiday run in the circuit's last race of the ...
LOUDON, N.H., (November 20, 2001) - After an exciting couple of weeks that saw Bill Elliott win his first Winston Cup race in seven years, the 26-year veteran heads to New Hampshire for a holiday run in the circuit's last race of the season.
Elliott, who is an avid snowboarder during the off-season, will bypass the slopes of New Hampshire in hopes of closing his first year in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T fielded by Evernham Motorsports with a strong run at New Hampshire International Speedway. The pre-determined starting order has Elliott starting 14th in Friday's race. The Georgia native has moved from 19th to 15th in the points standings since his 21st-place finish at Loudon on July 22, 2001.
Fresh off of a win in Homestead and a hometown visit to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Elliott is primed to wrap up his 26th year of racing in true style. His output of two poles, one win, five top fives and nine top 10s in 2001 are some of Elliott's best numbers since 1994 when he took one win, one pole and finished in the top 10 in the points standings.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
What do you have to do to get around at New Hampshire?
"I haven't really found what I need to do to get around the New Hampshire track. It hasn't been very good to me. We didn't run badly there the last race. Unless you're really, really good, it's one of them deals that's really, really tough to pass at New Hampshire. You don't need that much motor there. Motor is part of it, but handling means as much as anything.
"As far as the team goes, we're learning a lot. We're trying a lot of different stuff. Mike (crew chief Ford) and the guys have worked hard, and I've tried to run hard and do what I need to do from my standpoint, but New Hampshire has been a place that's kind of eluded me. I've run decent there sometimes, and sometimes I've been total junk. I just haven't been able to get going there. I guess it just doesn't fit my driving style."
Talk about the No. 9 team. In your first year together you're in the top 15 in points and have two poles and a win. "The guys on the team have worked for it. They have busted their butts, and I think that's what helps drive me every week. They have really worked hard. They deserve more than what we've done, and that keeps me going. I know how much blood, sweat and tears they've put into this deal, and that's the key. That's why I'm so glad we could walk away with a win this season for them and Mike (Ford, crew chief)."
Bill Elliott By the Numbers
*In his 13 appearances at New Hampshire, Elliott has earned three top 10s and one top five with average start/finish positions of 20th and 18th, respectively. In the first New Hampshire race this year, Elliott started 12th and ran in the top 15 for the first 200 laps. Though he ran with a pretty good car early in the race, handling problems developed as the day went on. He spun on lap 235 and made contact with the turn three wall, but rejoined the field after a pit stop. He finished the day 21st.
*Last weekend at Atlanta, Elliott started the race from the sixth spot. It was his best starting position at Atlanta since March of 1992. The Georgia native ran in the top 20 all day, getting as high as third in the early stages of the race. A tight handling car kept Elliott from maintaining his top five position, but he was able to run with the lead pack for the entire race, gaining valuable spots in the closing laps.
*In Homestead's Pennzoil 400, Elliott earned Ray Evernham his first win as team owner, and took advantage of a late caution to pull off the win. It was his 41st career victory and 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 2001. He led 59 laps, 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 in Atlanta, in March of 1977 when Richard Petty won the Atlanta 500.
*After last week's race at Atlanta, Elliott moved to 15th in the points standings. He's 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 13th and his average finish is 19th. 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 10th in the championship points standings.
*With $3,271,123 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 has made 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.