BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Elliott finished 20th Saturday night at Richmond and moved up two spots to 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. Elliott has climbed 14 spots in the standings in the past four ...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: Elliott finished 20th Saturday night at Richmond and moved up two spots to 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. Elliott has climbed 14 spots in the standings in the past four races.
"It's going to be tougher to move up the next 14 spots, but we've kinda got our act together and got to finishing here lately. We've had decent runs. We just need to keep chipping away at it.
"I think I've still got a lot of energy left. You learn as you get older how to delegate your energy. You try not to get too up or too down. This business is so predicated on what you did last week. It's so hard to keep the team upbeat to go to the next week. I think that's the things you look at as far as what drives this business today. You ask the guys as far as the race team guys, to do so much week in and week out. There's so much travel and so many things going on and so many pressures within that group that I think that's the hardest thing to drive than it is for myself or any of the other drivers. Since I don't own a race team any more it's easy to go to the race track and do what we need to do. You have your ups and downs. You have days that I feel tracks are better to me than others, but yet you don't discount any of them.
"You always try to bring out the best. I always look at ways to improve myself, not only with trying different things in the race car, trying to do things differently than I did in the past, rethinking the way I do that sort of thing and not get caught in a path where you're doing one thing one way and get left behind. I think that's what a lot of race teams do today. You get to doing things one way and you don't open your eyes up to doing things a different way and that sometimes leads you down the wrong road.
"At the first of '92 I walked in there (Junior Johnson's team) and Tim Brewer and all the guys were one team. All I did was step in and start driving the race car. We almost won Daytona and we won Rockingham the second race out, we almost won the championship. At the end of the year, Junior fired Tim and the whole team dismantled and we just kind of started all over again the next year. We had so much instability I felt like that's what led to our downfall in '93. I didn't cause that problem. All I did, I was a victim of circumstances. It was a difficult time, but I've been through difficult times before. I think we ran good several races but never could put a win together. Mike Beam came over and we never could click as far as getting the cogs to mesh again like I did when I first walked in there.
"I think things have changed (at Richmond). Goodyear has made a super good tire there. The tire's got a lot of grip. It's got a lot of longevity. They keep sealing that race track. The problem is once you seal it and once you get some rubber worked into the sealer, the speeds really escalate. Once you ever have to get out of that groove, there's no grip above it. You've got to look at it in several different folds. We've got tons of downforce, we've got really good tires, we've got sealer that normally escalates the speeds. I think it's just a combination of a lot of things there. It's not just one thing.
"It's just like what happened to Jerry (Nadeau). I've always said the most vulnerable place on our cars is hitting left side. That's where we sit. I feel like there needs to be more measures turned into making our cockpit a little bit bigger. We've downsized these cars over the years of evolution and we keep moving everything in. That gives less room for a crush factor there. It's a dangerous. I don't think you're ever going to find the right fix to everything, but if you look at the evolution to where we've gone to that's kind of a prime example of where we've ended up with the end result. The cars are a little bit smaller cage wise, you've got less room to fit everything in, the left side crashes you're so right there. He hit just right, and that's the unfortunate side.
"When I broke my hip in '96 at Talladega, I'd been trying actively to pursue a better seat, a better way to do things and so on an so forth. Throughout the evolution of the deal, I've been trying to do things better. Since Dale's death has NASCAR gotten more involved and doing more things to study what happens during these crashes, and that's been a fantastic thing from the way I see it.
"I want to continue to observe the data and try to look at doing things different. Right now I run a LaJoie seat. I feel like it's the best for me. I don't know much about the composite seat. I didn't feel comfortable in that seat when I tried to sit in it, but it wasn't made for me at the point of time I sat in it. When I first started wearing it, I wore the real early evolution of the HANS device. They were very restrictive, a whole lot worse than what this deal is today. I think it's just what you get used to. I like the HANS. I've gotten very used to it. To me, that's what I like. Some of them guys like different things. They feel like they need different things to drive, and I think that's just sorting out what works for you. It might take one or two times to get it to fit you like you want it. Some of this stuff, if it's better you need to work through it and make it work somehow. I guess that's my answer.
"I think we've come a long way. Dodge has done an extremely good job of putting this program together. With not only starting with Ray and my deal and attracting Rusty and Ryan and Penske, that was a good hit for Dodge getting them away from Ford. Ganassi has brought a lot to the table. Everything is going to have its struggle of ups and downs. Right now, I think we're still trying to figure out this aero balancing package and figuring out where our shuffle is in all of that. I felt like we were good at Texas. I felt like we were good at California. We've been decent other places. We're just like everybody else. You look across the board and everybody is riding that emotional roller-coaster right now. Jarrett won a race earlier in the year and he's had some terrible races lately. Jeff wasn't that great Saturday night. It's just a roller-coaster. If you miss it just a little bit, there's 25 cars that's hit it. It's just hard to overcome.
"I think we're finishing races. That's our biggest point. We were the first car out at Texas. We were some of the first cars out at Atlanta (39th). At Daytona, we had that little deal on pit road and we never got a chance to go back and finish the race. The way the weather was looking, we were banking on going farther in the race. We made a stop real late and ended up way back because a lot of cars were left on the lead lap. We were trying to repair our stuff. Kinda like Saturday night, we finally got some track position and due to the pit stops we lost a little bit. Due to a few circumstances right there at the end, I kinda lost everything and you never got a chance to make anything back up. You can have some good luck, but keeping it through the race is a tough deal and not finding yourself in a wreck or in somebody else's mistake, but yet still run well and finishing the race and making everything right. Having 100 percent of a good day, it kinda goes back to California. We had a little bit of a mishap on pit road with a tire and we ended up at the back of a line with 100 laps to go. We were 17th or 18th or somewhere back there, and it took us a hundred laps to ever get back toward the front. When you line up and you're 34 cars back, 17th or 18th on the outside and you've got lap down cars on the inside, it's tooth and nail getting back to the front. I feel like if we can just keep our momentum going. I feel like there's a lot of good races coming up for our race team, what we excelled at last year. I feel like we can expand on those and continue on from that.
"It's like at the start of the race, it's easy to pass X number of cars, but the closer you get to the top, the harder it is to do. I don't mean it can't happen. It is so up and down right now. People are all over the board. If you have the least bit of bad luck late in the race, there's no way. Used to 10 years ago, you could have a bad pit stop and overcome it real quick You could have a superior car or whatever. As tight as the competition is and as hard as it is to race these guys this day and time, you just can't overcome it. Just like Rusty the other weekend when he ran out of gas at California. It took him a long time to get back to the front, but he did it early enough that he had more of an opportunity being a 500-mile race. That helped him get there. It's just hard to overcome any mistakes you make during the day.
"I think they're probably easier to take because you understand the sport a little bit better. Certain things are harder to take than others and certain days are easier to take than others. It's all like every day life. Yet, you understand you've got to forget what happened Saturday night and focus on what's going to happen in the next race. You've got to put it behind you and learn from your mistakes and go to the next event. I don't know that it best resembles life in itself. In racing, there's so many ups and downs and they're right there in front of you. You have people that experience lots of different things. I guess it's similar in ways, but it's hard to say it's alike 100 percent. You can be on top one minute, on top of the world and then on the other side you feel like the world's on top of you.
"The tracks have come a long way, but I still feel like where this sport is today, and I said this several years ago, I feel like we would benefit if we had a group that traveled every week. They've come a step as far as having some nurses and doctors that do travel, but that's not like having a safety crew that's trained and can go right to it and do what they need to do. When you have race tracks that seem to be on top of it better than others. The Richmond crew seemed to be up on it to do what it took to take care of Jerry. Would you be better with those split seconds? Would it be better if we did have a crew that traveled full time? I feel like that would be something that would be a positive for us if we could find that group.
"If you're running good (in The Winston) you can kinda let everything hang out. I've won segments of the race. When they get down to inverted and right there at the end, we've never been able to capitalize on that side of the deal. When I came with Mike Ford, I've sat on the poles for that race several times. We've won lots of segments, but we haven't been able to win the one that counts. Usually the guy who comes out of the Winston Open has a little bit of an advantage. He's already run the deal and he knows what he needs to do to get to the end. Usually when they invert that deal, if you find yourself in the right spot, you end up up front when you need to be.
"I think they suit this whole race team. They suit where we ended up our evolution and a lot of the stuff we've worked hard on setup wise and stuff, and I've had a knack at getting around those places (Pocono, Indy, Michigan) pretty well. You never know. This is a different year, different aero package, but we'll see what happens."