Martinsville Marks Final Short Track Race Of Year For Bill Elliott MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 9, 2001) - Bill Elliott, who has made his best runs this year on the 1-mile or larger tracks of the Winston Cup circuit, will face his last short...
Martinsville Marks Final Short Track Race Of Year For Bill Elliott
MARTINSVILLE, Va., (October 9, 2001) - Bill Elliott, who has made his best runs this year on the 1-mile or larger tracks of the Winston Cup circuit, will face his last short track race this year in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway this Sunday.
Elliott has never made it to victory lane at Martinsville -the only track that he has raced on more than 16 times and not notched a victory. However, he has run well there of late, averaging a 10th place finish in his last three starts at the track.
Elliott says that a good starting position is crucial when racing on short tracks, and he hopes that by getting his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T ahead of some of the traffic early, he can keep it there for the remainder of the race. In the last five races that Elliott has finished ahead of his starting position he has gained an average of nine spots on the field.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
How do you approach a track like Martinsville that is not one generally suited to your driving style?
"I don't usually have a lot of success at the shorter tracks like Martinsville. In 25 years I still don't seem to have figured out the key to getting around there. I just go in and drive and try to do the best that I can."
Talk about the No. 9 team. In Charlotte you guys are down and battle your way back to a 15th place finish. What does this team have?
"These guys are working so hard. When days like we had on Sunday happen, that's what it's all about, being able to come back from being down and get a decent finish. These guys are absolutely gelling. We're definitely capable of winning. The question is just when."
After leaving Martinsville, there are only six races left in the season. How does this change things for drivers?
"I think the competition is closer and that causes everybody to race a little harder and not necessarily smarter. It's just one of them deals that a lot of cars are left running on the lead lap at the end of the race and the problem is a lot of pressure is on a lot of guys to do well. People start sticking it in places they don't need to go."
Bill Elliott By the Numbers
* This will be Elliott's 38th start at Martinsville Speedway. Though he has never visited victory lane or earned the pole position at Martinsville, Elliott has accumulated 13 top 10 finishes in 37 starts at NASCAR's oldest track. In April's Virginia 500, Elliott ran very close to his average 14th place start/finish at Martinsville, when he moved from 17th to 14th on the day.
* Last weekend at Charlotte, crew chief Mike Ford and the No. 9 crew worked diligently early on, trying to give Elliott a car he could handle. Elliott, who celebrates his birthday on Monday, was able to maneuver his way toward the front of the pack even after falling back as far as 38th. It was Elliott's best finish at the 1.5 mile speedway since October of 1999 when he finished 11th. He remains 14th in points, 208 points out of 10th place.
* Elliott and the No. 9 team have earned eight top 10 finishes for the year. With seven races to go, Elliott has already surpassed last year's season total of seven top 10 finishes. The last time Elliott earned more than seven top 10s in a single season was in 1997 when he earned 13 top 10s.
* Bill Elliott ranks 14th in the points standings. He has remained within the top 10 for half of the season, and within the top 20 for the entire year. His average start is 13.6 and his average finish is 20.1. With $1,686,933 in earnings, (excluding non-point events) Elliott leads all Dodge drivers with money earned this season.
* With $2,611,165 in official earnings this year, Elliott has broken his career-high yearly earnings record of $2,580,823 from last year. He is third in total winnings for all Dodge drivers in 2001 (behind Ward Burton and Sterling Marlin). After finishing eighth at Indy, Elliott became the first Dodge driver in history to break the $2 million earnings mark in a single season.