Loudon: Bill Elliott preview

NEW SURFACE "I can't really say much about the new surface other than that I know that they did something. I know they're trying to do everything they can to make it a good race for everyone involved. They keep making improvements to the track...


"I can't really say much about the new surface other than that I know that they did something. I know they're trying to do everything they can to make it a good race for everyone involved. They keep making improvements to the track so I give them credit for trying. I know a couple of guys went up there and tested, but we weren't one of them. I guess we'll know soon enough though."


"What do you need to run well at New Hampshire?"

"Track position, track position and more track position. It's that simple. It's typically a one-groove racetrack so passing is pretty tough. You're seeing that every week though, it seems. It was pretty important this past weekend in Chicago and it will be again this week. I don't think there's any real magic to getting around there. It's a pretty straightforward kind of track, but for some reason it's been a place that's kind of eluded me through the years. We got the pole at this race last year and we ran pretty decent there for awhile in the race, but we had trouble with some part and that ended it for us."


"We've been on a little bit of a run here the past few weeks. I think we were heading where we needed to be, but we kind of got set back when I broke my foot (during The Winston). It's definitely on the mend now, and we're starting to hit our stride. I think we went through some changes at the beginning of the year and then with the new body location rules, it kind of gave us some challenges to overcome at the beginning of the year. I think people underestimate how important and delicate a team is. Little changes can effect it so much. Mike (Ford, team director) and the guys are really focused and we've been working really hard, and this team is heading in the right direction. I think you saw that this weekend when we got hit and were able to keep things together. That car was beaten up pretty badly, but the guys were able to repair the car and we were able to finish on the lead lap and salvage a pretty decent finish. That says a lot."


Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 49. Elliott raced this chassis for the first time at Richmond this year, where he started 28th and finished 20th after leading for six laps.

Elliott and the No. 9 Dodge Squad concluded a two-day test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday.


This will be Elliott's 17th career start at New Hampshire Intl Speedway, where he has one pole, one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Elliott's best finish came in the 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 when he finished fifth. His best New Hampshire start came in the 2002 New England 300 when he took the pole.


Bill Elliott is the defending Bud Pole winner of the New England 300. (131.469 mph, 28.791 seconds) The pole was his first at New Hampshire Int’l Speedway, and the 54th of his career.


Rain caused several delays and shortened the duration of last year's 300-lap New Hampshire 300. Elliott started from the 20th starting position but was in 11th place by lap 13. Rain brought the caution flag out on lap 18 but the Dodge Squad elected not to pit. The race was red flagged several laps later and the action on the track was stopped for almost two hours.

Once the race resumed, Elliott's No. 9 Dodge was a little free but he would hold on and opt not to make any major adjustments on his first pit stop, taking four tires and fuel. Elliott remained a little loose and would lose some valuable track position in the ensuing laps. With the threat of rain, the Dodge Squad looked to gain track position as the race neared the midway point and Elliott was running in 16th place. (NASCAR can officially end a race once the leader has run half of the advertised distance.)

While most of the leaders pitted throughout the next 12 laps, Elliott stayed out, gaining positions until he assumed the race lead on lap 164, earning five bonus points. The rain wouldn't fall for almost 40 more laps, and Elliott was forced to pit on the next lap. He would battle for track position until the rain did fall and the caution flag was displayed on lap 199. The race was officially called on lap 207 with Elliott in the 23rd spot.


Elliott started last week's 400-mile race at Chicagoland Speedway in the third spot, his sixth top-five starting position this season. He was in second place by the second lap and remained there more than 40 laps into the race. On lap 52, he brought his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge in for scheduled service and took four tires and fuel.

The Dodge Squad also made a wedge adjustment to help correct his racecar, which was handling tight. The condition did not improve much when he pitted under caution on lap 83 and took four tires and gas. Many of the front-runners took two tires and some took fuel only. The stop put Elliott in 11th place. On lap 107, caution flew again for debris on the racetrack. Unfortunately, Elliott encountered some of it and came in for four fresh tires. Fortunately, most of the leaders did too and the move allowed Elliott to make a few more minor adjustments to his Dodge.

On lap 208 Elliott came in for what the crew believed would be for the final time, for a splash of gas only. He restarted in the top-10, but he was collected in an incident caused by a spinning car on lap 215 that caused extensive damage to the driver’s side of his No. 9 Dodge. Mike Ford (team director) methodically and patiently instructed the Dodge Squad on making the necessary repairs to keep Elliott running on the lead lap.

The team was successful, and Elliott was able to finish in 11th place. He remains in 19th place in the Winston Cup points standings, just nine points out of the next position and 196 out of the top-10.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott