Elliott Scores Fourth Win Of The Season For Dodge, Breaks 226-Race Winless Streak In Career Start No. 657 1988 Nascar Winston Cup Champion Scores 41ST Career Victory BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) "I've got to thank Ray...
Elliott Scores Fourth Win Of The Season For Dodge, Breaks 226-Race
Winless Streak In Career Start No. 657
1988 Nascar Winston Cup Champion Scores 41ST Career Victory
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"I've got to thank Ray (Evernham) and Mike (Ford) and all the guys. They work hard week in and week out. We came down here a couple of weeks ago and did some stuff and I didn't think we were that good. We started out yesterday and changed the car a little bit, more like we practiced a couple of weeks ago, and that's what seemed to work. We put two tires on and that's the best the car had been all day. We got tight in the middle of the race. We got back in traffic and couldn't work the traffic very well. When you've got two or three cars running together you never could get up there to make the thing work. I could finally get some clean air and I was really concerned about every being able to get back to Casey. He was running just good enough. I almost got him on the restart. He got a little bit of distance on me, and I said, 'man, that's it.' I thought maybe I could hold off the third place guy from catching him, so we just kept working and working. I finally worked a couple of different grooves and caught him back. I got up under him and he got bad loose down there in three and four. That's all it took.
"It's been great. The relationship we've had with Ray this year has been fantastic regardless of how bad the weekends have gone he's stood behind me through thick and thin, and that's the kind of team you want. It's not I, it's we. It's all of us collectively putting this deal together week in and week out and it's a great relationship.
"Yesterday I wanted to put this car in victory lane so bad, and I was trying so hard in practice. I think sometimes you try too hard. Today we just kept working at it and working at it. I thought maybe we'd get a top five or top 10 out of it. Then we came out third and we kept working at it and got to second. Jeff Burton couldn't do anything with me and I said, 'well maybe we've got a chance.' When the caution came out, I think that equaled everybody up. That kind of put us in a better position."
"The flat tracks have more of a tendency to do that. If you can get to a guy and get him in the center of the corner and just get up a couple of feet from the back of the car, you'll be able to get him loose. Three and four were the slickest corners today. That was my best opportunity. I was going to try him once trying to run up as close as I could to him the corner. If I didn't get that, I was going to try him on the high side. He tried to hold it down and when he kept trying to finish it off, he got it loose and he had to chase it back up the track and lost a lot of time.
"I'm happy for Mike (crew chief Ford) and Ray (Evernham) and the guys. This is Mike's first win as a crew chief. He was still in high school when I won the championship in '88. When I won the million in '85 he was in the 10th grade. He's done a great job. For what Mike brought to my deal last year, we almost won some races with the McDonald's deal last year. Luck never came our way. Ray believed in me. Mike and all the guys believed in me. We just kept working. With 20 laps to go when the caution came out, he said, 'you can do it.' I just dug down a little deeper and said, 'we'll give it our best shot,' and here we are.
"I tried that the last two years. These cars are so aero sensitive, so tire sensitive. Goodyear has come with a great tire. It's a little harder than we've run in the past. It takes such a different setup, and that's the key to this deal, being at the front of the pack. If you saw today, regardless of who it was, the cars that could run up front in clean air were the cars that could drive away. Tony Stewart probably had the best car here today. What won us the race, cost him the race. He got caught back on a couple of cautions to go and there wasn't enough time to make it up. We put on two tires, gave it our best shot and that's what won us the race. Track position is everything. Four or five cars can break away because they use the lap down cars to break up the mix. The lap down cars get between the good cars and then you get eighth, ninth or 10th in the pack. Then you're just along for the ride.
"We were about two tenths of a second a lap better than he was. Still, I had to catch him and pass him, but there was only 20 laps to go. I don't think there was enough time to mow him down. If it all comes back to when it's your day, it's your day. I really wanted Casey to win this race. He had a good race car. He ran a good race, but if he couldn't win, I wanted me to win. That's a little bit selfish there, but it was mainly for the guys. They're the ones that put the effort in the car each and every week."
"He (son Chase) hasn't been to victory lane. When I was at Talladega, I went over to a local dirt track and won the race on a dirt. Chase was there and a lot of my family was there. We had a great time and had a lot of fun. Today was a lot of fun. It's like Mike said before the race started. He said, 'let's go out here and have some fun.' We had a good race car. We ran good all day. It's part of what we do. Ray's right. I usually go over to the 19 truck and we talk about the setup each other has in the cars and talk about the changes we make. I think we do a great job of working together. Like I said, if I couldn't win this race, I would have loved for Casey to win it.
"When we decided to change four tires and came out 12th and couldn't make any headway. When I looked up, those guys were gone. I came off turn two and I couldn't even see them in three and four. Look at us at the end of the race, we were able to check out on the guys. Like Tony, when he got the lead air, or the 29 when he got the clear air or the 99 or whoever, those guys could check out and go on.
"Every time I see Ray I smile at him because I know what he's going through (as a team owner). Not to laugh at him, but I've been there. I know what it's all about. I guess it took me six months to finally realize I didn't have to worry about anything at the race shop anymore. When I left the truck, I could pretty much forget about it and come back the next Thursday or Friday. Like this week, I was able to go to Colorado a couple of days and clean the cobwebs out and I came in here with a whole different attitude, a lot better attitude. I felt great when I got here. I think every now and then you've got to get away from this stuff and step back and forget about it a day or two. You come back in it and you have a better attitude. Being a driver and car owner for the last six years, there was no way to get away from it. It engulfs you.
"It's going to be great (going to Atlanta). I haven't run well with the new configuration at Atlanta, but I haven't run well down here either until this time. With Mike and these guys behind me, it just makes me drive that much harder. The effort we put in means a lot for this race team.
"Back on the retirement deal, Ray's got two more years with me unless he fires me in the near future, I guess I'll have to live up to that commitment. That'll put that rumor to an end. The older you get, the harder it is to win. These young guys come in and they do things a different way. I feel like that you've got to be able to change. That's what's been hardest for me the last couple of years, to be able to change the way we built these race cars and learn how to drive 'em differently. I think that's the key to being successful throughout your career. A lot of guys can't change. They said this is the way it's got to be and that's it. I went through a period of time in '98 and probably in '99 with that same mentality. We've got to run this or it ain't going to work. Now it's you guys set it up and I'll try to give you feedback of what it's doing and we'll go from there. Sometimes I go to the truck and I don't even ask them what's in the car anymore."