Bill Elliott will be making his 800th career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tomorrow evening and he began marking the occasion on Friday by being the fastest Ford qualifier. Elliott, who is running a 12-race limited NASCAR Sprint Cup...
Bill Elliott will be making his 800th career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tomorrow evening and he began marking the occasion on Friday by being the fastest Ford qualifier. Elliott, who is running a 12-race limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule this season, will start the famed No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion of the Wood Brothers from the 10th spot in the Coca-Cola 600. He spoke about his milestone start and getting the No. 21 team competitive again.
BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT 800 STARTS? "There are just a lot of mixed emotions. It's great from my standpoint, but, still, looking at the whole deal it seems like yesterday with all that's happened. I was talking to Jeff Gordon back in Kansas probably about five or six years ago and I said, 'You know, I've been pretty fortunate to be able to have driven as many cars as I've driven throughout my era.' And to come here and go through the cars of the early years to all the changes they made and to what we're driving today, it's been a pretty wild ride."
ARE THOSE EARLY YEARS WHEN IT WAS JUST YOU AND YOUR BROTHERS WORKING ON THE CAR STILL THE MOST GRATIFYING FOR YOU? "Of all the stuff I've ever done in my life, that's the proudest I've ever been throughout my career. We started with just a bunch of guys back in Dawsonville, Georgia and nobody expected anything out of us, and we built that into not only a winning race team, but won a championship. That's what I keep saying. People really don't give us, especially Ernie and the family, enough credit for what we achieved out of that deal."
DO YOU STILL ENJOY DRIVING THE RACE CAR AS MUCH TODAY AS WHEN YOU STARTED? "I love to drive it and, to me, it's so much fun to run with Len and Eddie. They do such a good job. They don't put a lot of pressure on you and we come and have a good time. That's what it's all about, but we need runs like this to try to establish this deal."
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SUNDAY'S RACE? "I tell you what, last week I felt pretty good about the car as we were running along there, but we've still got to nip away at it because, I'm gonna tell you, these guys that are on the board and do what they do, they're hard to beat and that's just gonna be a part of what this business is all about. But we've come here and I still feel like we show we can run and be somewhat competitive with the amount of money we've got to spend. That's the only way we can look at it."
YOU'VE STILL GOT THAT COMPETITIVE DRIVE, THOUGH, THAT WHEN SUNDAY ARRIVES YOU'RE HERE TO WIN, RIGHT? "Absolutely. That's the thing about it, I know we're fighting an uphill battle, but, still, I do feel like if we get things right, we can be competitive. Coming out of here, if we have a competitive day, that says a lot for this race team."
DAVID HYDER SAID BEFORE QUALIFYING THAT YOU GUYS HAD SOMETHING THIS WEEKEND. HOW MUCH HAS HE PLAYED A ROLE IN GETTING THIS GOING AGAIN? "I feel like a lot. David has done a lot for this race team. We don't necessarily maybe hit on the right things some of the times, but he's a very methodical guy who thinks through stuff. He's always thinking about how to make this race team better and that's the competitor in him, and I think that's what you've got to look at in this business. If you can do that and come into this sport and keep nibbling away at it, that's 90 percent of your goal."
EVEN THOUGH THIS IS STILL A SINGLE-CAR TEAM, HAVE SOME OF THE CHANGES THE LAST YEAR OR SO GIVEN YOU GUYS MORE OF A DIRECTION TO HEAD? "Yeah, because at least instead of just going and showing up from week to week, we can really concentrate and work hard and define what we're doing. Like I said, coming here last week was invaluable for what we learned and what we were able to build. I talked to Hyder two or three times this week and we talked about several different things and he said, 'I'm gonna change some stuff around,' and I said, 'Good.' I told him that when I made my first laps we didn't get to qualify in our showdown race, but I didn't feel like we would have been that good. This week, we were pretty dog gone good."
ARE YOU READY TO RUN 600 MILES? "I am (smiling)."
-credit: ford racing