Darlington: Bill Elliott preview

BILL ELLIOTT NO. 9 DODGE DEALERS INTREPID R/T History at Darlington "I seem to have a knack for this place. The spring race never seems to be as kind to me as the fall race, but I've run pretty well at Darlington throughout the years. You...

BILL ELLIOTT
NO. 9 DODGE DEALERS INTREPID R/T

History at Darlington

"I seem to have a knack for this place. The spring race never seems to be as kind to me as the fall race, but I've run pretty well at Darlington throughout the years. You really have to race the racetrack. It helps if you've been there a few times. You kind of get to know the place, but it's a tough one."

Keys to Darlington

"Tire conservation, like at Rockingham, is important. At Darlington, the surface has gotten so abrasive over the years that you really have short runs because the tires wear off so fast. You just kind of slip and slide and try to hold on. You've really got to keep the car under you for long runs. It's not like Bristol where there's some grip to the racetrack."

One Engine Rule

"We obviously did okay last week with the one engine rule. Everyone was just kind of waiting to see what was going to happen since a lot of people thought Atlanta would be the first test. We got the pole and then held up during the race. We got caught in a wreck, but that's just racing. We didn't have any engine problems all weekend and my hat is off to Ray and the engine shop."

Stats & Facts

* Darlington is one of Bill Elliott's best tracks. In his 47 appearances at the track Elliott leads all active drivers with five Bud Poles and is tied with Jeff Gordon for the most victories (five) among active drivers. He also leads active drivers in top fives (20), top 10s (31) and laps led (937). His 9.15 average finish at Darlington is tops among all active drivers and is his personal best among all the tracks he has competed on.

* Winning the inaugural Winston Million at Darlington's 1985 Southern 500 is probably Elliott's most memorable victory at any track. Elliott's first pole position of his career came at Darlington on April 10, 1981. Prior to his win at Miami last season, Elliott's last win was at Darlington in 1994, driving for Junior Johnson.

* In last fall's Mountain Dew Southern 500 Elliott started ninth and finished fifth (his first top five finish as the track since August of 1997). Battling a tight handling car that nearly put him a lap down, Elliott fought back thanks in part to excellent pit stops by the No. 9 crew and a solid pit strategy from crew chief Mike Ford. Elliott's top five finish was his 20th at Darlington and first at the track since the fall race of 1997. In the 2001 Dodge Dealers 400, Elliott started ninth based upon points after a morning fog delayed practice and qualifying. The No. 9 Dodge crew worked to correct a car that pushed all day and Elliott finished the race in 23rd place.

* Last week, hometown hero Bill Elliott had a front row seat for the MBNA America 500 at Atlanta, but an accident with 35 laps to go put the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T in the garage for the day. In his 51st race at the track, Elliott drove off from the top spot after thrilling the local crowd during Friday's qualifying session when he captured the pole with a speed of 191.542 mph in 28.944 seconds. Elliott stayed in the top five through the first cycle of pit stops. He and the Dodge Squad would spend the day making air pressure adjustments to correct for a tight car. He was collected in an incident on the track on lap 290 that caused extensive damage to the No. 9 Dodge, ending Elliott's strong run. He ended the day in 35th place, the first time this season that Elliott has finished out of the top 15. He drops from sixth to 13th in the Winston Cup points standings.

* Elliott's pole position last weekend at Atlanta was his first pole at the track since November 1991. It was his 52nd career Bud Pole in 663 Winston Cup races, placing him sixth behind Bobby Allison in all-time Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers). With 45 superspeedway poles, Elliott ranks third behind Cale Yarborough (46) and is the leader among active drivers. Elliott's most recent pole prior to last weekend came at Homestead in November of 2001.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Junior Johnson , Bobby Allison , Cale Yarborough