Bill Elliott looks to turn up the heat at Phoenix PHOENIX (October 23, 2001) - Bill Elliott heads west this weekend to a track where he has proven successful. In 13 Winston Cup races at Phoenix International Raceway, Elliott has one win, two ...
Bill Elliott looks to turn up the heat at Phoenix
PHOENIX (October 23, 2001) - Bill Elliott heads west this weekend to a track where he has proven successful. In 13 Winston Cup races at Phoenix International Raceway, Elliott has one win, two poles and four top-five finishes at the one-mile oval, which opened to Winston Cup racing in 1988. He is one of only three drivers who has earned at least one pole and one win at the track.
Coming to Phoenix for the first time in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, Elliott hopes that his success this year with Evernham Motorsports will help him turn around two disappointing finishes in his last two visits to the track.
Elliott averages start/finish positions of 13th and 20th respectively at Phoenix, and is among the top 10 drivers in money won at the track. Making his 655th career start in this Sunday's race, Elliott hopes the Arizona sun will be shining on his Dodge Intrepid as he looks to make his second career visit to the track's victory lane.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
You have had some success at Phoenix. Do you like the track?
"I seem to get around Phoenix okay. I like the track. I've done well there before. We should be good. I think we're bringing the car we ran at Las Vegas and Loudon earlier this season. Mike and the guys have been working really hard. We're testing this week at Homestead so it'll be another long week for the guys."
Some people expected this year to be tough for Dodge. How do you assess
your performance this year?
"We all wish it would have gone farther a little quicker, I mean that's a part of what we do, but you can't look back. I think Ray and all the guys are working extremely hard. At this point, with the way the performance was (at Talladega), we ended up having some motor problems Saturday and changed for the race and it didn't seem to run as well. But there are places we've been good at like Michigan, Chicago, Kansas City and Vegas. But now we need to put it together and be good everywhere. I think there are little things we're learning week in and week out. It'll just take a little time."
After last weekend, do you think Talladega is ready for single-file racing?
"I think there needs to be some sort of compromise reached that's a legitimate compromise, and not all one sided. I think everything that's been voiced at this point has been frustration by the drivers that we've gone through several of these races and the results have been the same, and I think we all go into these races knowing that something is going to happen. And it can happen at any of these races. It can happen at Martinsville or Homestead, wherever we go, Phoenix, whatever. But there (at Talladega) you run 43 cars together all race then when you get down and you try and race at the end there's nowhere nobody can really go."
Bill Elliott By the Numbers
* This will be Elliott's 14th start at Phoenix. In his 13 starts at the track Elliott has one win, two poles and four top fives finishes. Elliott is one of only three drivers in history who has earned at least one pole and one win at the track. His 32nd career win came in the second Winston Cup race ever at Phoenix in 1989. He earned pole positions in 1993 and 1995.
* Elliott has struggled in his last two appearances at Phoenix earning his two worst start-finishes at the track in the past two years. His last run came in last year's Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 where he started 26th and finished 35th.
* Last weekend 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 Elliott's 18th top five start at the superspeedway. The Georgia native kept his No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T in the back of the pack for most of the day, looking to avoid any major on-track incidents. His strategy worked until the final lap. Elliott finished 20th and remains 15th in points. He gained five bonus points for leading a lap - the third consecutive race that Elliott had led at least one lap at Talladega.
* Bill Elliott has moved to 15th in the points standings. He 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 19th.
* With $2,738,841 in official earnings this year, Elliott has broken his career-high yearly earnings record of $2,580,823 from last year. He is third in total winnings for all Dodge drivers in 2001 (behind Ward Burton and Sterling Marlin). After finishing eighth at Indy, Elliott became the first Dodge driver in history to break the $2 million earnings mark in a single season. He is on pace to break $3 million before the season's end.