Pocono II: Elliott, Ragan - Ford Saturday interview

Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Air Force Ford Fusion, has five victories and 22 top-10s in 45 career starts at Pocono Raceway. Sunday's race will mark the first time that Elliott has visited the same track twice since joining Wood Brothers/JTG...

Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Air Force Ford Fusion, has five victories and 22 top-10s in 45 career starts at Pocono Raceway. Sunday's race will mark the first time that Elliott has visited the same track twice since joining Wood Brothers/JTG Racing in late May. Elliott finished 37th at Pocono in the rain-shortened race in June, and then followed that the following week with a season-best 11th-place showing at Michigan.

BILL ELLIOTT -- No. 21 Air Force Ford Fusion

"I think, right now, I've finally gotten back into a race mode. I've kind of been out of the loop, so to speak, for the last year. It just takes a little bit of time to get back up to speed. I feel like now I can give them some good feedback. Now, they're sorting through the things I like and the things I don't like. We're now kind of figuring each other out, and once you come back to some of these places a second time around -- here, the first race, the car we brought, we had some issues with it and we couldn't get it sorted out. And it was like every time we ran were behind two or three practices before we unloaded. Yesterday, we were a lot closer and a lot better than we were here the last race. Those are the things you have to keep working on. It's not the big stuff, it's all the little stuff. There are things we have to continue to work on, and that's where I feel you can continue to run and get your dialogue between me at Hoyt [Overbagh, engineer] and Fatback [McSwain, crew chief], and all the guys on the team -- the that's where it all meshes together."

WHAT MAKES POCONO SO DIFFICULT TO FIGURE OUT? "It's a compromise. We came here, and you didn't shift. And then people were shifting during the race. And then that got to be the big thing, and NASCAR eliminated that, and when they did do that it made it more of a challenge. The compromise is like a road course -- and, again, you've really got to be good in key places or you're really going to be bad. That's what makes this track such a challenge."

THIS IS A LONG RACE, TOO. IS THIS TRACK A CHALLENGE MENTALLY? "Not that bad. I think it's more physical than mental. I think it was worse when they shifted here. This will be the one of the most physical race tracks you'll run. It is a long day. It's taxing. Here, you might catch a break and it might be fairly cool and then when you come back it could be 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity."

WHERE IS THIS TRACK THE MOST TAXING? "It seems like the corners -- and going back to when you shifted here, it's a little bit easier since you're not shifting, but there's something about this race track and what you have to do and the way you have to drive it that it's just been that way. I think one thing is just the length of the race. That's probably one of the hardest deals. You run 500 miles, but you can only run a 56- or 57-second lap around this place on into your race run, so it makes for a long day."

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David Ragan, driver of the No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion, will make his second-ever career NASCAR Nextel Cup start at Pocono on Sunday. He finished 26th at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the rain-shortened race in June. Ragan posted a career-best fifth-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona.

DAVID RAGAN -- No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion

WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK SO HARD TO FIGURE OUT? "The biggest thing is just getting the car to drive right. You hit the setup and the car's pretty comfortable, it's not that bad. You've got three corners that are all a little different, but the biggest thing is just getting the race car to do what you want it to do."

THIS WILL BE JUST YOUR SECOND CUP RACE HERE. HOW MUCH DO YOU LEARN ABOUT THIS PLACE EACH TIME YOU RETURN? "You learn a lot -- and even after that first time you think you know everything about this place, but then you learn quick the second time here new things happen and new things pop up that you've never seen before. So, you're always learning. Even tracks that I've been to three and four times -- I've been to Daytona several times and going back there in July this year, it didn't even seem like the same race track. So, certainly, you learn something every time you go back. Every time you've got a little different style of car. Next year, coming back, we'll have the COT and it's going to be a whole new thing again. You certainly learn a lot, and the second you think that, 'Hey, I've got this thing figured out,' it bites you and you realize you don't have it figured out just yet."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , David Ragan