BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Elliott will start second in Sunday's Brickyard 400 after circling the 2.5-mile track at 179.666 mph in time trials on Saturday. "It's kind of like you use what you...
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Elliott will start second in Sunday's Brickyard 400 after circling the 2.5-mile track at 179.666 mph in time trials on Saturday.
"It's kind of like you use what you learned over the winter at Daytona and then it's time for the Brickyard. It's one of those races that everybody wants to win. It was pretty uneventful. The car stuck pretty well. We were a little loose, but it wasn't too bad qualifying. You go out earlier in the day and the race track's got a good bit of grip to it. As the heat gets in the track, from time practice started until the time it ended, the race track gained about 10 degrees. It's hard to overcome that, I don't care who you are. I do see some struggle within some of the teams, and I think that goes across the board. Any time you look at how competitive this sport has gotten the last several years, there's going to be a little turmoil or whatever. I look back and it's hard to find the right people in the right places to mesh a team together. One thing I've got to say from our standpoint, we started out the year and Ray has been trying to go in the direction as far as getting his comfort level down as a car owner from a crew chief. I think right now he's finally getting his organization like he wants it. I think that's spilled over into the performance of the race car. We've kind of chipped away at it the last couple of weeks. The first part of the year we were kind of hot and cold with the change over to the Goodyear tire. Ray came in and reorganized and moved people around, trying to get things together.
"The last two months we've tested a lot. I think that's helped me and the crew guys come together as a team. Mike (crew chief Ford) and I have been together for two years, and I really like Mike a lot. He's got good people around him now and he's making good decisions. As young as he is, he's doing a heck of a job.
"The testing always works well. You've got to readjust because of the lack of downforce on the nose. Now we've had to come back off that a little bit, but I think we'll see more how we have to change the car in race configuration. That'll be the next step. We'll go into another mode.
"The key to this business is you try to set up with the package you have. Before we couldn't get the nose down and the car was really, really loose. We had to back off that a little bit.
"Last year, I had one of the best Indy's I've ever had here. I finished third and really had a good car. That was last year and now we've got to worry about this year. I think the biggest key will be how this last practice goes this afternoon and how the race track goes tomorrow and how well we get the car tomorrow."
"You've got so many cars that are running well today and if you have any kind of problem during the day you can't overcome it, just like D.J. last week. You either gain or lose a lot of points. Everybody is running so close together that track position is everything. It depends on how the caution flags fall and the strategy the teams use throughout the afternoon. That really determines where you're going to finish.
"I came here whenever we did the Goodyear tire test in the early 90s with Tim Brewer in Junior's (Johnson) car and I ran well then. Whenever we come back, I don't know what it is about this place.
"For the money I had to spend on the deal, I had a pretty good year last year. Ray is getting his next group of people in place. I go back on my career, and I've had a lot of instability on my team over a number of years. That affects your ability to go out here and run good every day. We've had some good tests the last two months and the crew and I have really jelled the last couple of weeks and that's helped us more than anything. That's going to be the key. Every little ounce you get today can make the difference in winning the race and finishing 15th.
"Casey has gained a lot of confidence in the last couple of months. He's had some good runs and qualified well. I think that's helped him more than anything. One good thing about it, we share information real well. We're pretty close in driving style and can set up the cars close.
"Casey qualified fifth last week at Pocono. We had a pretty decent run last week. Look across the board, we picked it up a little. I felt like we had a pretty decent shot here regardless, but I do think it (rule change) will help the car in race configuration. We'll take every inch we can get."