Charlotte: Bill Elliott preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T COCA-COLA 600 "I don't do anything necessarily different to prepare for this race. Mentally you have to be ready to run an extra 100 miles. You have to make sure you're hydrated and all that, but ...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T

"I don't do anything necessarily different to prepare for this race. Mentally you have to be ready to run an extra 100 miles. You have to make sure you're hydrated and all that, but that's with every race. It's a long race though. A lot can happen. A little luck doesn't hurt. You've got to stay out of wrecks and you've got to take care of your car. You need the whole package to make it through this one.

"We tested here a few weeks ago and we learned some things. We weren't the fastest but Mike and the guys took what we learned from the test and went back and looked at it to see if we could figure out what we needed to do. I think we had a pretty good car for The Winston. We had some trouble there at the end. I'm still not sure what it was, but we should be alright for the 600."

"It's a long race and you've got to make sure that you've got a car capable of running 600 miles. That means you've got to have an engine package suited to that kind of race. You tend to lean to the conservative side because it is the longest race of the season. Charlotte is a rough racetrack too, so durability and endurance are important. We think we got our best practice with The Winston. The conditions will be more like what we'll run during the 600. We plan on base lining our set up for the 600 on that."


* This will be Elliott's 51st start at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He has two wins, four poles and 20 top-10s at the track. His most recent pole-position at the track came in the Coca-Cola 600 in 1992. Elliott's most recent win at the track came in the fall race of 1987. He has earned over $1.5 million in winnings in points races at Charlotte.

* If Elliott finishes in the top 10 this weekend, it will mark his 299th top-10 finish in 26 years of racing. This week's start at Charlotte will mark career number 671 for Elliott.

* In last year's Coca-Cola 400, Elliott had a great qualifying run and started fourth on the day. But a cut a tire mid-race forced him back and kept him from regaining spots on the field. He finished the day at 26th. In last year's fall race at Charlotte, crew chief Mike Ford and the No. 9 crew worked diligently early on, trying to give Elliott a car he could handle. Elliott, who celebrated his birthday the following Monday, was able to maneuver his way toward the front of the pack even after falling back as far as 38th. It was his best finish at the 1.5-mile speedway since October of 1999 when he finished 11th.

* Last Saturday, Elliott and Evernham Motorsports teammate Jeremy Mayfield finished as the top two Dodges in The Winston. Elliott earned his spot in NASCAR's All-Star race with his 2001 victory at Homestead. The veteran driver nearly earned a front spot for the all-star race during the Winston's unique qualifying format, a four-tire change followed by a three-lap sprint. The Dodge Squad pulled off an excellent spot but were penalized for a loose lugnut and were accessed a three-second penalty, putting Elliott in the 18th spot. He didn't stay there for long once the race started. He sprinted to the front of the pack in the first segment, finishing third after another good stop by the Dodge Squad kept in the top five. He would remain there for the second segment, finishing third again. For the final segment, the 10 fastest cars were inverted for a final 20-lap run. Forced to start behind the field now, Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge became tight in traffic but would end the night with a strong run, finishing 10th. It was Elliott's 17th all-star race. He is the only driver to still be running at the end of all 17 Winston all-star races in which he has competed.

* Elliott looks even better in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T than he did at this point last year. Elliott ranks three spots higher, is finishing an average of four spots better in each race, and has one more pole and three more top-10s than he after 11 races in 2001. Currently, Elliott ranks 11th in the points race and trails 10th place by only 31 points.

* Elliott's fourth place finish at California was his first top five and his best finish of the season. He led three laps, gaining a spot and making up valuable ground in the Winston Cup points race. He is currently tied for 11th place, and trails 10th place by only 36 points. Last week's finish was Elliott's fourth top 10 of the season. He also received the race award for gaining the most spots, advancing from 39th to fourth.

* Elliott's pole position this year at Texas was his second of the year (Atlanta), and third in the span of 10 races - dating back to the November 11 race at Homestead/Miami last year. It was Elliott's 53rd career Bud Pole in 668 Winston Cup races, placing him third behind David Pearson (57) and Darrell Waltrip (59) in Modern-era Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers).


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip