Homestead: Bill Elliott preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid ROCKINGHAM VICTORY "I think they get better each and every year. You learn more to appreciate them better because they come less often. Sometimes back when you're going through it you don't...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid

ROCKINGHAM VICTORY

"I think they get better each and every year. You learn more to appreciate them better because they come less often. Sometimes back when you're going through it you don't realize how hard it is to win these things anymore. I'm just so proud of the team and the efforts that they've given, and how well we've come together in the last few races. Hopefully we can notch out what we need to do at Homestead."

HOMESTEAD

"Well, we really don't know anything about Homestead. Once we get down there tonight and check it out we'll know more kind of what's going on. We're looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the new change. Hopefully we put a good run together this weekend, and go from there."

MIKE FORD - ROCK VICTORY

"We've been close to winning some races lately. Our team has really come together strong, between our road crew and pit crew. Everything has really come together well here at about the ¾ mark of the season. We've been knocking on the door to some victories. We've been doing a lot of testing. We actually spent some time at Rockingham testing a couple weeks ago, and we felt good about it going back. We were able to put the period at the end of the sentence, if you will."

MIKE FORD - HOMESTEAD

"Homestead's a new racetrack, so we're going in completely open-minded. All we have to go on are the rumors that have circulated about what the racetrack is, the surface texture and things of that nature. We'll take a baseline setup and figure the bank angles and corner radius. Then we'll go in and be open-minded. We have seven hours of track time on Wednesday, and I think that'll be enough time to get us in the ballpark. We have Thursday to review our data and come up with a starting point for Friday. I hope it fits into our kind of racing. It seems like the racetrack will be faster and smoother, and that's generally when we're at our best."

RACE NOTES

* Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 30, which he drove to all three of his Evernham Motorsports victories: Homestead 2001, Indianapolis 2002, and Pocono(b) 2002. Elliott has run this chassis this year at Pocono(a), Michigan(b), Indianapolis, Kansas and Atlanta(b). His highest finish with the chassis this season is Kansas where he finished second.

STATS & FACTS

CAREER AT HOMESTEAD

* Sunday's race will mark Elliott's fifth career start at Homestead. Elliott has one win, one pole, one top-five and two top-10s at the speedway. He won from the pole position in 2001.

2001 VICTORY

* In 2001 Elliott took advantage of a late caution at Homestead to give Ray Evernham his first win as a team owner. It was his Elliott's first visit to victory lane since September 4, 1994. Elliott started the race from the pole. It was his 51st career pole and his second of the 2001 season. Elliott led the event three times for a total of 59 laps. Consistent pit stops and a call by crew chief Mike Ford to take two tires during the last caution sent Elliott out of the pits in second place behind then-teammate Casey Atwood. A late caution put Elliott behind Jeff Burton, but the No. 9 was able to move around him for the Dodge Squad's first win.

ELLIOTT ROCKS TO 44th CAREER VICTORY

* Elliott won the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway, scoring his 44th career victory and fourth win for Evernham Motorsports in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge. The victory came in career start number 730 for Elliott and was his first since August 4, 2002 at Indianapolis - 50 races ago.

ALL-TIME WIN LIST

* With 44 career victories, Elliott remains 14th among all NASCAR Winston Cup Series race winners (behind Buck Baker - 46, and ahead of Tim Flock - 40). Elliott ranks third among all active drivers (Jeff Gordon - 61, Rusty Wallace -54).

TOP-FIVE RUNS

* Bill Elliott's victory at Rockingham was his 175th career top-five finish, ninth of 2003 and his fourth in a span of six races. Prior to 2003, Elliott had earned eight or more top-fives in 10 seasons throughout his career (1982-90, 1992). His average final ranking in those years is third (not including 1982, in which he only ran a partial schedule.)

RUNNING UP FRONT

* Elliott led 140 of 393 laps at Rockingham last weekend - the second time in 2003 that he has led the most laps in a race. Elliott led 115 of the 267 laps raced at Kansas this year.

POINTS RACE UPDATE

* Elliott's win and 10 extra bonus points for leading the most laps helped plant him firmly within the top-10 of the Winston Cup drivers points race. He gains a spot, moving to the ninth position, just 46 points out of the next spot. Elliott leads the 10th place driver by 56 points.

PIT CREW CHALLENGE CHAMPIONS!

* The Dodge Squad became part of the record books by clenching the Unocal/76 World Pit Crew Competition Saturday afternoon at Rockingham. Elliott's pit crew changed four tires and filled his tank with Unocal 76 gasoline. The crew completed the work with a record time of 16.725 seconds and no penalties for loose lugnuts or other pit road infractions. This is the third time the Dodge Squad has competed in the event and the third time the team has pulled off a top 10 stop (2002-seventh and 2001-fourth).

MOST RECENT RUN AT HOMESTEAD

* In the 2002 Homestead-Miami race Elliott started the day in the 10th position. He wasted little time in trying to work his way through the field. He moved up to ninth during the first two laps and worked within the top-15 throughout the race. Elliott maintained his position despite the various pit stop calls for two and four tires from most of the field during the course of the day. The Dodge Squad took two tires during two of their pit stops and made slight adjustments to the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid to keep Elliott running up front. With less than 15 laps to go, Elliott worked his way from 10th to a seventh place finish. It was Elliott's 13th top-10 finish of 2002, placing him in the 13th position in Winston Cup drivers points standings.

ROCKINGHAM RACE REVIEW

* Elliott's win at Rockingham proved even more impressive when he was forced to start in the rear of the field for Sunday's event, after qualifying fifth. Elliott's engine "let go" in the first practice of the weekend, forcing the No. 9 crew to change engines, relegating them to the rear of the field to start the race. Elliott didn't spend much time there as he jumped into 19th place by lap 50. On lap 77, Elliott pitted for the first time and needed no adjustments to his chassis. The Dodge Squad got him out of the pits so fast he gained four spots, moving into the top 10 in ninth place. From that point on, he never left the top 10 and on lap 156 he moved to third. He assumed the lead on lap 186 and battled with the other two top running cars to hold onto the point position throughout the remainder of the race. Elliott got excellent help maintaining that spot on pit road. The Dodge Squad never lost him a position all day and sent him out of the pits first under pressure to keep the lead. Mike Ford made only slight air pressure adjustments to Elliott's Dodge due to changing track conditions. Elliott didn't need much as he battled lapped traffic in the closing laps. With 100 to go, he was closing back in on the top spot. He assumed the lead again on lap 320 and a pit stop eight laps later saw another impressive stop with Elliott still in the lead. He rode that position to his 44th career Winston Cup win and the last fall race at the 1.017-mile banked oval where Elliott made his first Winston Cup start in 1976. (He started 33rd and finished 34th in that race, collecting $640 for competing.)

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Rusty Wallace , Casey Atwood , Ray Evernham , Tim Flock