Martinsville: Bill Elliott preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid RACING AT MARTINSVILLE "We've run decent lately at Martinsville, but something at the end keeps jumping up and biting us. That's the nature of the beast at Martinsville, though. You can get...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid


"We've run decent lately at Martinsville, but something at the end keeps jumping up and biting us. That's the nature of the beast at Martinsville, though. You can get into trouble so quickly. To be successful on these short tracks, you've got to have good track position and you've got to stay out of trouble. If we can keep out of everything, then we should be okay. But when you're in these 500-lap races, trouble has a way of finding you whether you like it or not."


"Our team has put together some good qualifying efforts this year. That's something that we seem to keep improving on, and it's important because track position is a big deal on a lot of these racetracks. The guys at the shop really have been plugging away to give us good equipment to run in, and we just haven't been able to show it yet. We've just got to stay at it though. This season has a long way to go, so we just need to keep doing what we've been doing and hopefully the cards will fall our way."


"These off-weekends seem to be few and far between, so you've got to take advantage of them while they're here. I took some time to go snowboarding this week in Vail, and that's something I really enjoy doing when I've got the time to do it. Next weekend I don't know what I'm going to do. I'll just enjoy being with my family. You've got to take it easy while you can during the season. It's still early, but before you know it, it's going to be July and we'll have that 20 race stretch to end the year."


Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 22 this weekend at Martinsville. Elliott drove this chassis to a 14th place finish at Richmond(a) and a third place starting spot at Martinsville(b) last year.


* Though he has never visited victory lane or earned the pole position at Martinsville, Elliott has accumulated three top-fives and 13 top-10 finishes in 40 starts at NASCAR's oldest track. He has led five Martinsville races for 241 laps, most recently logging five bonus points in the fall race of 1990.


* Elliott's five top-10 starts in the first eight races of 2003 tie him for second most on the circuit (Ryan Newman - six, Jeff Gordon - five). Elliott's current average starting position (11.5) is 4.5 spots better than it was after the first eight races of 2002.


* Elliott earned his best Martinsville finish of third in the fall races of '84 and '94. He qualified on the outside pole position in the fall race of '88, marking his best start at the .526-mile oval. He has started in the third position twice - most recently in the 2002 fall race at Martinsville.


* In the most recent race at Martinsville, Elliott jumped out to second place on lap one. He would stay in the top five through the first sequence of pit stops as many of the cars back in the field elected to stay out. Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge needed only slight air pressure adjustments throughout the day. Just past the midway point Elliott came into the pits where the Dodge Squad had to pull the fender off of the left front tire. The damage was due to contact with two cars that were spinning in front of him. Restarting in the 31st position, Elliott began picking off spots at the notoriously difficult-to-pass track. Less than 100 laps later, Elliott was back in the top 15. His shot at a top-10 finish faded when he was spun out on the track on lap 424 and forced to finish the day in the 42nd spot.


* Last weekend at Talladega, Elliott started his Dodge in the fifth spot. He also came in to change four tires following the pileup on lap four. He restarted in ninth place and fluctuated through the field for most of the day, at one time leading a lap. The Dodge Squad kept Elliott running with the pack, maintaining pace with the lead draft for the duration of the race, making two-tire and gas-and-go calls toward the end of the race. Elliott managed to keep his Dodge from sustaining any damage, ending the day in 13th place. He currently sits in the 32nd spot in the Winston Cup points race, six points out of the next spot and just 85 out of the 20th position.


* This weekend's race will mark Elliott's 704th 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. Elliott is one of only seven drivers to reach the 700-start mark - Richard Petty (1,177), Dave Marcis (882), Darrell Waltrip (809), Ricky Rudd (775), Terry Labonte (753) and Bobby Allison (717). Elliott is third in overall starts among active drivers.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Ryan Newman , Richard Petty , Bobby Allison