Daytona 500: Bill Elliott Media Day interview

BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion ARE YOU STILL HAVING FUN DOING THIS? "I have a good time. To me, it's a lot of fun just to come out and hang out. To do it full-time, I don't think I could ever go back because I've had a taste ...

BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion

ARE YOU STILL HAVING FUN DOING THIS? "I have a good time. To me, it's a lot of fun just to come out and hang out. To do it full-time, I don't think I could ever go back because I've had a taste of the other side of life. Now it's just a pretty good balance. Last fall I ended up running a little bit more than I wanted to run, but I was trying to help Len and Eddie out and trying to get things sorted out from that standpoint, and now I'm just trying to help them out a little bit at the start of the season. They've got some plans as far as Jon (Wood) and Marcos (Ambrose) and trying to get all that done for the rest of the year, so, hopefully, we'll transition them in and it all works out."

HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THESE YOUNG GUYS WHO ARE COMING IN THESE DAYS? "Let me say this, the youth of today -- the guys that will come in -- they've been exposed to more racing than I ever thought about doing at their age. Take Jeff Gordon, he was racing at three or four years old, or whatever it was, racing go-karts. Those cats could run 160-170 sprint car races in a year. Granted, by the time I started running Cup, maybe I ran 30 races or 40 races, but they'd run 150-160 a year since the age of three. Do the math, as Michael (Waltrip) would say. You look at these kids today, they've been exposed to so much and now you look at the stuff that they've been able to come up in, they learn fast, they do what they need to do. Granted, I can't tell them anything because I don't know what to tell them. They know more than I ever thought about knowing at their age, so from the standpoint of looking at the youth and what they've done, my hat's off to them. They've done a hell of a job."

FELLOW GEORGIAN DAVID RAGAN WAS BORN IN 1985 WHEN YOU WON THE WINSTON MILLION. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HIM AND RACING AGAINST GUYS HIS AGE? "I'm proud of him. He's done a good job. A lot of these kids -- win, lose or draw -- they work hard. A lot of them have gotten opportunities that a lot of us never would have at that point in time, but I can't say anything negative about that because they've been able to come in and either win races or run competitively and that's the name of the game."

YOU ARE THE LAST GUY TO WIN AN UNRESTRICTED RACE AT DAYTONA. YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE ABOUT RESTRICTED AND UNRESTRICTED RACING HERE. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? "Back then you had to work so hard on the handling of the race car because that was the most important part. The motor was part of it, but the way the race track was and bias-ply tires and cars with no downforce, it didn't take long to use it up. That's the thing that I thought more than anything was trying to get my car to where I could run it as hard as I could as long as I could because that was the biggest key to winning this deal."

SO THAT'S THE MAIN DIFFERENCE? "When restricted came, you could pretty much run it flat-out the whole deal. It eventually got slick enough that you had to give up some as the race went on, but, really, when these things were unrestricted it was like crazy-fast when you got to the corner at that point in time. I've said it several times and I'll say it again today, if I looked at everything in my career that most impressed me -- not of things that I've accomplished, but most impressed me as far as what we did as a race team -- I think to come down here and run 210 around this race track and sit on the pole here in '87 and win this race is the most impressive thing to myself that I've ever done."

THIS IS YOUR KIND OF TRACK. "I enjoy running here. I enjoy the calculating side of how to race here, but sometimes that doesn't play a part in what you can do at the end of the day. Today, with NASCAR not being afraid to throw the caution as frequently as they do, where in the past they never threw a caution, so you really had to be strategic in where you placed yourself as the race progressed. That's what I keep coming back and saying is that in the eighties you could have a lot of problems and overcome it, whereas today if you have any problem, you're probably not gonna overcome it. You've got to have the best stops on pit road. You've got to have the fastest times on pit road. You've got to have an awful good race car. You've got to have somebody that will help you get to the front. You've got to have somebody that will stick with you through some moves that you do on the race track, and if you don't have that, you're not gonna run."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon