Indianapolis: Bill Elliott preview

DEFENDING LAST YEAR'S WIN "It's going to be tough with the competition as close as it is. You've got to have everything absolutely perfect. That's how we won last year. Everything was perfect from our pit stops to our car. You just can't have...


"It's going to be tough with the competition as close as it is. You've got to have everything absolutely perfect. That's how we won last year. Everything was perfect from our pit stops to our car. You just can't have anything go wrong or someone's going to be there to take advantage of it. I know Ray (Evernham, team owner), Mike (Ford, team director) and all of the guys including the guys down at the engine shop have been working hard to give us what we need. I'm not going to lie to you. It'd be nice to do it again, but it's going to be awfully tough in this day and time."


"It's hard to rank where that win falls. I've had some memorable moments in my career, and they're all special in their own way. The Brickyard is one of the crown jewels, so to speak, of our sport so that makes it special in that regard but as far as ranking it against winning the Daytona 500 or the Winston Million, you just can't. They're all special in their own way, and it's hard to say that one win is more special than the other. I will say that winning the Brickyard is certainly one of the highlights of my career."


"It was certainly an emotional day. It meant a lot to me but it also meant a lot to a whole lot of other people too. It was Mike Ford's first win at the Brickyard and it was Ray's first win as a team owner there. It's just such a special experience. There's so much history at that track that you can't help but get emotional about winning there."


"Our season has not been what we hoped it would be and Indy's a great place to turn it around. We're coming off a couple of strong tests there. We're concerned that our performance at Pocono wasn't what it was last year, but we're pretty sure that we understand why. Our cars are capable of being fast and our teams are capable of being up front and hopefully, Indy's a place we can show that we're stronger than what we've been running.


* Bill Elliott is scheduled to defend his 2002 Brickyard 400 win with the same chassis- No. 30- that he drove to victory lane at Indianapolis last year. It also is the same chassis that he drove in his wins at Homestead in 2001 as well as Pocono(b) in 2002. The chassis was run one time this season, at the first Pocono race. * This weekend, Elliott is running a special paint scheme on his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge commemorating the 10th running of the Brickyard 400. * Evernham Motorsports will field the No. 91 Dodge Intrepid for the Brickyard 400, driven by Casey Atwood.



* This will be Elliott's 10th career start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has one win, four top-five and seven top-10 finishes at the track. Elliott has led five Brickyard races for a total of 149 laps led at the track.


* Elliot has notched seven top-10 finishes, including one win, in the nine races at Indianapolis. Elliott's one win came in last year's Brickyard 400. The victory was Elliott's 43rd and latest career victory.


* Elliott is the only driver to win the Brickyard 400 from the front row, starting from the second-place starting position in 2002.


* Elliott has a 9.78 average start in nine races at Indianapolis, the best among active drivers with more than five starts. He also has an 8.00 average finish at Indianapolis, the best among drivers with two or more starts.


* Elliott is one of only seven Winston Cup drivers to reach the 700-start mark when he qualified 25th at Darlington this year. This weekend's race will mark his 716th career Winston Cup Series start. If he continues to start every race of the 2003 season, Elliott will surpass Bobby Allison to rank sixth on the all-time start list in the fall race at Michigan Int'l Speedway. Currently, Elliott ranks third in overall starts among active drivers.

INDIANAPOLIS RACE NOTES EVENT START FINISH STATU S LAPS LED NOTES 2000 Brickyard 400 7 3 Running - - 2001 Brickyard 400 2 8 Running 6 - 2002 Brickyard 400 2 1 Running 93 43rd career victory


* Elliott dominated last year's Brickyard 400 in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, leading 93 of the 160 laps, including the final twelve on the way to his 43rd career victory. Elliott narrowly missed gaining his third consecutive pole of the season, starting instead on the outside of row one. His lap of 49.421/182.109 mph was faster than the previous track record but slower than the 49.191/182.960 mph ran by pole sitter Tony Stewart. Elliott and Stewart got out to a commanding lead in the early stages of the race. Stewart's lead on Elliott on lap 3 was .155 seconds. On lap 11, Elliott attempted to pass Stewart on the backstretch, but Stewart held him off. A caution on lap 12 brought most of the field in for service. Stewart came out first with Elliott right behind him. Elliott assumed the lead for the first time after the second round of pit stops on lap 39. The No. 9 Dodge Squad allowed Elliott to keep track position, pulling off under-14 second pit stops throughout the day. Elliott's lead would grow and on lap 44 Elliott led Stewart by .256. Elliott never fell below the seventh spot. Crew chief Mike Ford relied on four tires and his fast and efficient pit crew to keep Elliott moving forward. On lap 136 (out of 160) he began a run for the lead passing the No. 6 car for fourth place, on the next lap passing the No. 29 car for third, followed by a pass on the No. 20 for second, effectively setting up a dramatic run on the No. 2 car for the lead. On lap 149, Elliott methodically picked his moment and took the lead. A late race caution would bunch the field up one more time, but Elliott would get an excellent jump on the green flag to hold off the No.2 car to claim his first Brickyard win.


* Elliott started last weekend's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway from the 11th starting position. Mike Ford and the Dodge Squad used a variety of two-tire and four-tire calls throughout the race in order to gain track position. On lap 69, Elliott sustained damage to his left front fender after a car checked up on pit road and sent a third car into the No. 9 Dodge. The contact forced the Dodge Squad to spend more time on pit road repairing the damage. Midway through the 200-lap race, Elliott had moved up from 27th place to just outside the top 15. Pit strategy was again a factor and the team brought Elliott down for a final time on lap 164 just as a caution flag was thrown. He took four tires and fuel and again made up ground, fluctuating in and out of the top 15. Elliott held off some competitors behind him who took fresh tires in the closing laps and managed to hold on to the 17th spot.


* Following his 17th place finish last weekend at Pocono, Elliott gains a spot in the Winston Cup points, currently sitting in 18th place. He is just 30 points out of the next position and 194 out of the top 15.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Casey Atwood , Bobby Allison