Wood Brothers U.S. Air Force No. 21 Involved In Early Wreck Of The Best Buy 400; Team Persisted and Finished Harrisburg, NC (June 2, 2008)- Bill Elliott in the no. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion finished the Best Buy 400 on Sunday, June 1st in...
Wood Brothers U.S. Air Force No. 21 Involved In Early Wreck Of The Best Buy 400; Team Persisted and Finished
Harrisburg, NC (June 2, 2008)- Bill Elliott in the no. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion finished the Best Buy 400 on Sunday, June 1st in the 33rd position. The "Monster Mile" brought out its claws on lap 17 when the Wood Brothers Racing machine was involved in a multi car wreck that left the no. 21 with left side damage. Nevertheless, there was not enough damage to hinder a finish.
Bill Elliott started the Best Buy 400 in the 24th position after an good qualifying attempt on Friday, May 30th that put the Wood Brothers Racing no. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion into the race on speed without utilizing the past champion provisional. On lap 17, Bill radioed into the team with feedback on the conditions of the car when the spotter, Eddie Thrap, broke into the conversation to tell him to slow down that there was a wreck ahead. It was slightly too late as Bill hit the brakes and grazed the left rear of the car against the outside wall, this turned him around backwards as cars piled ahead. He went through the pile-up backwards and spun back around leaving the U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion with left front and rear damage, yet he could drive away.
As soon as he could, Elliott brought the no. 21 down pit road to fix the fenders on the front and the rear. Taped up with bare-bond, the crew sent Bill back out on the track to keep him on the lead lap as the caution car turned onto turn four. Crew Chief, Mike "Andretti" Smith, radioed Elliott to come back down pit road for new tires and to fix more of the damage. As he entered the pit on lap 22, NASCAR threw the red flag. According to NASCAR rules, teams are not allowed to touch the race car under the red flag conditions to make any changes or repairs. This is when the team assessed the damage and put a plan in place to fix the major spots.
After the 15 minute red flag came to an end and the yellow flag was once again in play, the "21 Team" crew jumped into action to make the planned adjustments and repairs. The team made as many repairs as possible before the pace car would pass them. They sent Bill out to the track before that happened and he remained on the lead lap. The team requested the no. 21 back down pit road once more, however the race restarted on lap 26 and it was too late to enter pit road; therefore he remained on the track in the 34th position.
Several laps went by and on lap 50 Elliott reported the car as being "super tight". Lap leader Greg Biffle passed by which caused the no. 21 to fall one lap down from the leader. The yellow flag flew on lap 66 where the team made several adjustments to help with the tight condition. The race commenced on lap 71 and the U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion was scored in the 35th position.
By lap 100, the adjustments seemed to help the car as Bill commented on better handling. He said, "The car is a lot better, the adjustments really helped." Several green flag laps ensued when the team decided to pit for fuel and tires on lap 150. As Bill returned to the track he radioed to the crew that he felt a wheel loose. The "21 team" decided to make an unscheduled pit stop on the next lap to get new tires, but to save them from going down another lap, the caution flag flew and Elliott stayed out on the track until pit road was open and the no. 21 could pit. The team decided to get four tires, fuel and add more bare-bond tape to the rear. The race restarted on lap 160 and Elliott was scored in the 34th position.
A long green flag run led to another pit stop under the green flag on lap 240. The 21 crew changed four tires but couldn't put fuel in the tank since the dry mount broke. They sent the U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion back onto the track but needed to immediately come back in again to fix the mount so they could put fuel in the tank. On lap 246, the swift 21 crew did make the repair and sent Bill back onto the track in the 34th position.
Several green flag laps continued and on lap 327 another caution transpired. Bill reported that the handling of the car was once again very tight. The team decided to pit to make several more adjustments and sent the no. 21 back to the track in the 34th position.
As numerous green flag laps continued and the end of the race was approaching, Elliott had moved up to the 33rd spot where he took the checkered flag and completed the race.
Despite the damage early in the race, the Wood Brothers no. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion has another weekend of racing and completed the 400 miles. The no. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team will head to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 500 on Sunday, June 8th.