Pocono II: Bill Elliott preview

COMPETITION AT POCONO "I was still on the mend with my foot when we came here in June, but now I'm pretty much back to normal and that will definitely work in our favor. Obviously, we had a good little run going coming into this race last year...


"I was still on the mend with my foot when we came here in June, but now I'm pretty much back to normal and that will definitely work in our favor. Obviously, we had a good little run going coming into this race last year and ended up getting the pole and winning but like I've said before, everything has to be perfect. The competition is so close and so good now, you can't afford to make one mistake. It used to be seconds or a tenth of second separated things. Now, it's hundredths and even thousandths of a second that separate us."


"We qualified in the top 10 here in June so hopefully we can improve on that. We just had a lot of things to deal with when we raced here last time. My foot was a factor and then someone got into us there at the end and we didn't end up where we should have. I seem to know my way around this track and enjoy racing here. It seems strange to say this but in a month or so since we've been back there, I feel like this team has started to get back to where we were before. We tested Indy and had a pretty good test. They're not 100 percent the same, but a lot of what you learn at one you can use at the other. I guess it worked for us last year."


Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 52 at Pocono. It is a new chassis.



This will be Elliott's 44th career start at Pocono Raceway. He has a total of five wins, five poles, 14 top-fives and 22 top-10 finishes at the track. Elliott has led 22 Pocono races for a total of 427 laps led at the track.


Elliott's five victories at Pocono are more than any other driver in NASCAR history - 1985(a,b) 1988(b), 1989(b) and 2002(b). His five poles at the track tie him for most of any driver ( with Ken Schrader) - 1984(b), 1985(a,b), 1995(b) and 2002(b). Elliott's 14 top-fives at Pocono give him the second most on the circuit (Mark Martin has 17 top-five finishes). His 22 top-10s tie him for the second-most top-10s at the track (Mark Martin has 24 top-10 finishes).


In last year's Pennsylvania 500, Elliott and teammate Jeremy Mayfield both qualified in the top-five (Elliott-1st, Mayfield-4th).


Elliott's victory in the 2002 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway was his 42nd career win, and his 15th (and most recent) win from the pole position. Elliott has collected more wins from the pole position than any other active driver. He ranks ninth all-time in races won from the pole. Elliott's victory was also the first Dodge win at Pocono Raceway since Richard Petty won the 1976 Purolator 400.


Only eight Pocono races have been won from the pole position, and Bill Elliott has done it twice - 1985(a) and 2002(b). Elliott earned a third "unofficial" win from the pole at Pocono resulting from a victory from the second starting position in the fall race of 1985. Elliott was officially awarded the pole 2 ½ weeks after that victory when tests showed that the original pole winner had used an illegal fuel in his car.


Elliott is one of only four drivers to sweep both races at Pocono in the 20 years that the racetrack has hosted two Winston Cup Series events in the same year.


Elliott, who made his 606th career Winston Cup start during the 2000 Pocono 500, became 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 715th 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.


Despite a broken foot, Elliott completed the 200-lap Pocono 500 earlier this year. ARCA driver Frank Kimmel stood by in case Elliott was not able to endure the difficult conditions at Pocono, but Elliott never got out of his Dodge. In fact, Elliott rolled off from the eighth spot. A caution less than 10 laps into the race brought Elliott in for service. The Dodge Squad topped off the gas only and sent the No. 9 Dodge out in first place. When the race resumed, Elliott battled to hold onto the lead but a few laps into the green-flag run he brushed the wall in turn two, causing damage to his car. He fought to hold onto his top-10 position but damage to the right side of his Dodge caused him to lose ground. On his next stop, the Dodge Squad adjusted the right side fenders, in addition to making air pressure and wedge adjustments. Elliott reported loose conditions, especially in turn one. After a trackbar, wedge and air pressure adjustment on lap 128, Elliott reported that the balance of his Dodge was better despite still being a little free. Elliott battled to find "clean" air back in race traffic as the race neared its conclusion. On lap 170, Elliott topped off on gas, using the strategy employed by several of the race leaders. He was making up ground from the 22nd spot when caution for the 97 car cut short his run through the field. Elliott came in for two tires, but when the race resumed just a few laps later another caution flew for an incident with the 1 car. During the ensuing run to get back to the caution flag, another car ran up the back of Elliott's Dodge, causing damage and forcing Elliott to lose spots. He managed to hold off some hard charging cars to finish in 19th place.


After the field was set in last week's New England 300 due to rain, Elliott started the race in 29th place. He consistently stayed in the top-15 for most of the day. Opting for track position throughout the day, Mike Ford used a variety of calls to keep Elliott in contention, calling for two tires and fuel several times during the course of the race. Elliott eventually reported tight conditions coming off of the corners. On lap 100, Elliott brought his No. 9 Dodge into the pits for gas only, moving into the top five. He continued to battle with the leaders for the remainder of the race and pitted for what was to be a final time on lap 197 for four tires and fuel. With less than five laps remaining, Elliott was still running in the top-10 when he was forced to pit for fuel, finishing 31st.


Following his 31st place finish last weekend at New Hampshire, Elliott remains in 19th place in the Winston Cup points standings, 21 points out of the next position.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Frank Kimmel , Richard Petty , Bobby Allison , Mark Martin