RICHMOND, Virg., (September 4, 2001) - Just a short trip away from the nation's capital, Bill Elliott is looking to continue governing a strong, late-season surge that has put his team up six spots and into the top 15 in NASCAR Winston Cup...
RICHMOND, Virg., (September 4, 2001) - Just a short trip away from the nation's capital, Bill Elliott is looking to continue governing a strong, late-season surge that has put his team up six spots and into the top 15 in NASCAR Winston Cup points standings since his last visit to Richmond International Raceway.
Elliott and the No. 9 crew are earning more consistent runs out of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, something they had hoped to achieve in their first season with Evernham Motorsports.
Entering Saturday night's race at Richmond, Elliott returns to seek the top-tier finish that eluded him when a great setup on the No. 9 car took heavy damage in the May race, forcing Elliott to finish more than 50 laps down. He'll have momentum on his side as his team is hitting on all cylinders, having helped him earn three top fives and four top 10 finishes in his last six starts.
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T
What's the key to success at Richmond? "To be successful at Richmond, you need to do what you need to do at every track- stay out of trouble and have good track position. Richmond's a pretty raceable race track. It's pretty much just the standard deal. I don't look at these places whether it's a mile or a half-mile or 10 miles. I just go in and race the pavement. It's the same story no matter where you race. Track position means everything. You've got to have good pit stops, a good handling car and a little luck on your side."
You've been to Richmond several times. Is there one memory that stands out? "I've got a lot of memories from every race track, but the thing I remember about Richmond are the Sawyers. They did a real good job with that track. They had good insight and did well with it. They grew it, built it up and moved on. They made Richmond a place we wanted to come race."
How did you feel about your fifth place finish at Darlington? "We just got lucky there at the end. We didn't get a lap down, Mike and the guys kept working on the piece and got it working pretty decent at the end. Some breaks went our way for a change, but we could have been fifth or we could have been 20th. That's just how it goes. I knew when the No. 93 car drove into turn one he wasn't going to make it. After that, everything else was just who was going to end up where."
* In his 39 appearances at Richmond, Elliott is tied with Jeff Gordon for most Bud Poles (three) among active drivers. With $992,063, Elliott is third in leading money winners among active drivers at Richmond. He has earned 15 top 10s and eight top fives at the track and his average start and finish position at Richmond Int'l Raceway is 14th. In the first Richmond race this year, Elliott started eighth and finished 37th after a mid-race accident heavily damaged the No. 9 car, and forced Elliott more than 50 laps back.
* Prior to this year's pole at the Daytona 500, Elliott's most recent pole position had come at Richmond's second race in 1997.
* This will be Elliott's 649th start in a NASCAR Winston Cup points event. If he makes both races, his 650th start will come when he returns to New Hampshire International Speedway for the New Hampshire 300 next week.
* Elliott has run every race this season without a DNF.
* Last week at Darlington, Elliott struggled with a tight handling car that nearly put him a lap down. But he fought back to finish in fifth place thanks in part to excellent pit stops by the No. 9 crew and a solid pit strategy from crew chief Mike Ford. Elliott's top five finish (his third in his last six races) moved him from 15th to 14th in the points standings. His average start for the year is 13th and his average finish is 17th.
* Elliott and the No. 9 team have earned eight top 10 finishes for the year, including four in their last six races (fifth at Darlington, third at Michigan, eighth at Indianapolis and fourth at Pocono). With 11 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.
* With $2,340,073 in official earnings, Elliott is second in total winnings for all Dodge drivers this year (behind Ward Burton). After finishing eighth at Indy, Elliott became the first Dodge driver in history to break the $2 million earnings mark in a single season.