Daytona II: Bill Elliott preview

BILL ELLIOTT - NO. 9 DODGE DEALERS INTREPID R/T THOUGHTS ON DAYTONA "Daytona is always a big race no matter if you're talking about the 500 or the July race. You just never know though. You can move up or back so fast that you can't really...


"Daytona is always a big race no matter if you're talking about the 500 or the July race. You just never know though. You can move up or back so fast that you can't really predict how you'll finish. You just go down there and do your best. You can say you're going to draft with this person or that person but you really don't know once you're in that race car."

"We've put together some good runs here lately. Mike (Ford, crew chief) and the guys have been working hard. We've been making a good run at it. It's so close right now that you can't afford to make any mistakes. We're just taking things race by race. We're focusing on Daytona this week. Having a good run this weekend is important. You just have to stay out of trouble. That's one of the biggest keys to running well at Daytona."

"If you look at the schedule, the past four or five races have been at tracks where we usually do well. I figured we'd have a shot at some of those tracks, and we have. I think this team has really come together. We spent last year figuring some things out. It was our first year together. Then this year, there were some rule changes that we spent the first part of the year getting caught up with. I think now we're kind of hitting our stride. Everyone on this team is pretty close and we've gotten a lot closer. I've been a part of race teams that have run consistently well and the one thing I've noticed about this group is how much fun everyone is having at the track. You can see it in their eyes and that gets taken back to the shop and the guys there see it."


* In his 50 races at Daytona International Speedway, Elliott has been very successful. He has come away with four wins (1985a, 1987a, 1988b, 1991b), five poles (1985a, b, 1986b, 1987a, 2001a), 15 top-fives and 24 top-ten finishes.

* Elliott holds the track qualifying record at Daytona International Speedway. He raced 210.364 mph to cruise to a qualifying time of 42.783 seconds at the 1987 Daytona 500. He is also one of only seven drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the pole position, having done it twice (1985 & 1987).

* In his visit to Daytona earlier this year, Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T narrowly missed his 25th top-10 finish at the track, ending in 11th place. He used patience and veteran moves to keep his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T competitive throughout the day, starting in the 29th spot. In last year's Pepsi 400, Elliott started 18th on the day in a new racecar built for Daytona. He struggled with a loose car throughout the race. Although the No. 9 pit crew worked hard to fix the handling problems, Elliott was unable move up through the field and ended the day at 35th.

* In the last Winston Cup race on June 23rd at Sears Point, Elliott was once again a factor. He qualified fifth (the highest qualifying Dodge) and was fast throughout the weekend's practices. Elliott maintained his top 10 position throughout the duration of the race. Elliott needed no major adjustments on his Dodge Intrepid R/T. He would move to fourth place by lap 38 and had advanced to the second spot by lap 43. The caution flag flew again on lap 63. Elliott came in for the final time and was barely beat out of the pits by the leader. Elliott wouldn't remain in the second spot for long. He assumed the lead on lap 85. Crew chief Mike Ford made the call to stay out for track position during the final caution, knowing that the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T could make it on fuel. Elliott battled with several cars and finished in eighth place, the highest finishing Dodge for the second consecutive week. It was Elliott's seventh top 10 of the season. He remains in 10th place in the Winston Cup points race. He gains valuable ground in the standings, just 138 out of fifth and 226 out of first place.

* Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T has led laps in the past four races (17 at Dover, 26 at Pocono, 31 at Michigan, three at Sears Point). He has led in six races this year for a total of 94 laps. Elliott led nine races in 2001 for a total of 171 laps.

* Elliott looks even better in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T than he did at this point last year. Elliott ranks seven spots higher, is finishing an average of more than six spots better in each race, and has one more pole, one more top-five and four more top-10s than he did after 16 races in 2001. Currently, Elliott ranks 10th in the points race just 31 points out of ninth place and 138 points out of fifth.

* Elliott's second-place finish at Dover was his 300th career top-10 finish in 26 years of Winston Cup racing. Elliott has seven top-10s through the first 16 races in 2002. In 2001 Elliott earned nine top-10s. He earned a career-high 24 top-10s in 30 races in 1984, finishing third in the points standings.

* Elliott's second place finish at Dover was also his second top five in 2002 and his best finish since his Nov. 11th victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. He led twice for 17 laps, earning five bonus points and helping him make up valuable ground in the Winston Cup points race.

* 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 , David Pearson