Long Pond: Bill Elliott preview

RECENT TEAM PERFORMANCE "I can't say enough about these guys. They were great last week in the pits. They've really worked hard. Mike Ford, Derek (Jones), Mike (Hawkins), Kenny (Francis), Vince (Valeriano) and all the guys have just put together a...

RECENT TEAM PERFORMANCE
"I can't say enough about these guys. They were great last week in the pits. They've really worked hard. Mike Ford, Derek (Jones), Mike (Hawkins), Kenny (Francis), Vince (Valeriano) and all the guys have just put together a really good effort. We've done a good job of looking at our notes and expanding on them. We talk a lot with the No. 19 and the No. 7 team. We're all working together and I think our efforts are beginning to show. I feel like we've really got a consistent rhythm down the past few weeks."

POCONO
"We've just got to keep doing what we are doing- staying out of trouble, starting up front and maintaining our track position. We've done a good job of that the past few weeks. We just need to keep doing it. At the last Pocono race, we did a good job. We had a pretty decent run. I'm sure that will help us this time around."

MIKE FORD ON MAINTAINING TEAM'S MOMENTUM
"We can't change what we've been doing. We can't let the added pressure of running good effect us. We've got to keep our head down and keep running. We've got to stay focused on the big picture, which is making up the 287 points. It's pretty simple. We've just got to continue doing what we've been doing. I'm real proud of these guys. They've worked hard and it shows. We just have to keep maintaining and improving each week."

STATS & FACTS

* Elliott's second-place finish at Dover was his 300th career top-10 finish in 26 years of Winston Cup racing. Elliott has six top-10s through the first 13 races in 2002. In 2001 Elliott earned nine top-10s. He earned a career-high 24 top-10s in 30 races in 1984, finishing third in the points standings.

* This will be Elliott's 41st start at Pocono Raceway. Elliott's four wins at Pocono tie him for most among active drivers, and his four pole positions at the track are one shy of tying him for the all-time pole record of five. He also has nine top-fives and 15 top-10s at the track. Elliott earned his most recent Pocono victory from the pole position in the spring race of 1992. He earned his most recent pole position at the track in the fall race of 1997.

* Elliott looks even better in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T than he did at this point last year. Elliott ranks 10 spots higher, is finishing an average of more than seven spots better in each race, and has one more pole, one more top-five and four more top-10s than he did after 13 races in 2001. Currently, Elliott ranks ninth in the points race and trails fifth place by just 76 points.

* In his last visit to Pocono, Elliott displayed the smart, aggressive driving style that made him a champion. He started 14th in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, but quickly worked his way up through the field. He took the lead with 52 laps to go, the first time he has led since the Talladega 500. He led two laps before a series of cautions and pit stops shuffled the field. Elliott spent the last 45 laps running fifth, but blazed past Johnny Benson on the front straightaway of the last lap to take home the fourth place finish.

* Last Sunday at Dover, Elliott started out his race weekend with another run at the pole. He qualified second and remained up front for the duration of the race. The No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T was never out of the top 10 during the 400-mile race. Elliott took the lead on lap 17, earning five extra drivers points. He would fluctuate in the top five for the first half of the race making minor adjustments during the first few pit stops. The Dodge Squad was able to help keep him up front throughout the race with excellent work in the pits. Elliott moved up on the track thanks to the work of the Dodge Squad late in the race. Crew chief Mike Ford's call to take fuel only on lap 306, help put Elliott in contention for the win. On lap 371, Elliott took on four tires while the race leader stayed out. Because of the pit sequence of other teams, Elliott came out fifth and immediately began to run down the race leader. He spent the next 10 laps maneuvering around the fourth and third place cars. By lap 390, he had run down the second-place car and was making his run on the lead, finishing just .478 seconds away from the win.

* Elliott's second place finish at Dover was his second top five in 2002 and his best finish since his Nov. 11th victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. He led twice for 17 laps, earning five bonus points and helping him make up valuable ground in the Winston Cup points race.

* Elliott's pole position this year at Texas was his second of the year (Atlanta), and third in the span of 10 races - dating back to the November 11 race at Homestead/Miami last year. It was Elliott's 53rd career Bud Pole in 668 Winston Cup races, placing him third behind David Pearson (57) and Darrell Waltrip (59) in Modern-era Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers).

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip , Johnny Benson , David Pearson