Richmond: Bill Elliot preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid RUNNING AT RICHMOND "I've been up and down there. Last time we were a little bit better than we were earlier in the year. We're going from California, which is a 2-mile tri oval, to a ...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid

RUNNING AT RICHMOND

"I've been up and down there. Last time we were a little bit better than we were earlier in the year. We're going from California, which is a 2-mile tri oval, to a three-quarter mile oval. It's doesn't make that much of a difference. You just learn how to adapt to each. At Richmond, you've got to start up front and stay up there, and that usually means having good pit stops. Richmond can be a pretty enjoyable track though. It's a Saturday night race under the lights, and a Saturday night at the races is always a good time."

CALIFORNIA FINISH

"We had a good day. We got a little behind when our wheel got hung up on our hub but we never gave up. The guys kept plugging away and we managed to make up the ground we lost and came out of there with a good day. We've got a little momentum going right now, and we have to keep rolling with it. We've had some good cars, but we haven't really been able to show it. We had a good car in Atlanta and then again in Texas, we but had trouble and weren't able to finish the race. We were pretty good all weekend in California, and it finally showed on Sunday. We just have to keep it going now. We moved up in points and it's a long season. We just need a little luck to go our way."

RACE NOTES

Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 49 this weekend at Richmond. This chassis is a new chassis and has never been raced.

CAREER AT RICHMOND

* This will be Elliott's 43rd career start at Richmond Int'l Raceway. He has one win, three poles, eight top-fives and 15 top-10s at the track. Elliott has led 11 races at Richmond for a total of 486 laps.

RICHMOND RECORDS

* Elliott's three Bud Poles at Richmond tie him with Rusty Wallace for the second-most at the track among active drivers (J. Gordon - four).

BEST RUNS AT RICHMOND

* Elliott's best finish at Richmond was a win from the pole in spring of 1992. He scored his lone runner-up finish at the track in fall of 1993. Elliott earned his three pole positions at Richmond in '89b, '92a, and '97b. He has two more top-five starts at the track (third - '84a, fifth - '85b).

THIS SHOULD BE WORTH MORE THAN 10 BONUS POINTS

* Bill Elliott led 348 of the 400 total laps (87%) in the March 8, 1992 Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond, earning a victory from the pole position. No driver has led more laps in a Richmond race since then, and only one driver has led more laps since Richmond adopted a 400-lap race format in 1976 (Bobby Allison - 369 laps led, Sept. 1979). Darrell Waltrip also led 348 laps at Richmond in the spring of 1984.

ALWAYS FAST ON FRIDAYS

* Elliott's average qualifying position through the season's first ten races is 12.50, giving him the fifth-best average on the Winston Cup circuit. He has six top-10 starts on the year, tying him for the most on the circuit behind Ryan Newman (eight). Elliott's qualifying average this year is also more than eight positions improved over what it was after the first ten races of 2002.

LUCKY NUMBER FOUR

* Elliott finished fourth at California last weekend, giving him consecutive fourth-place finishes at the track ('02-'03). This weekend Elliott will visit a racetrack, Richmond, where he has notched consecutive fourth-place finishes three times in his career ('83-'84, '87 and '90).

MILESTONE WATCH

* Elliott, who made his 602nd career start at Richmond in 2000, 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 706th 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.

MOST RECENT RUN AT RICHMOND

* In the 2002 fall race at Richmond, Elliott qualified 19th but during the final practice on Saturday, the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid experienced an engine-related mechanical failure forcing the team to install a new engine, and according to NASCAR rules, Elliott started at the back of the field. He rode out several early race cautions, managing to avoid the incidents and advanced eight positions in five laps. He continued to battle for track position throughout the race, while trying to adapt to the mostly tight handling conditions of his No. 9 Dodge Intrepid. Mike Ford and the Dodge Squad made several adjustments for air pressure and wedge to help Elliott with the handling throughout the evening. Elliott continued to battle through traffic for much of the night and on lap 115 he moved into the 24th spot. He pitted on lap 220 for four tires and by lap 234 advanced to the 18th spot. With 50 laps remaining in the 400-lap event, Elliott continued to maneuver for track position, gaining two spots in the final laps to finish in 16th place.

LAST WEEKEND

* Elliott started last weekend's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway with a dramatic qualifying effort. Going out first, Elliott remained in the top spot until late in the session when Steve Park knocked him to the second spot with a time just .003 seconds better than Elliott's. It was Elliott's sixth top-10 starting spot for the season and first top-10 qualifying run at California. Elliott used his top spot to his advantage early in the race. He led the first lap when Park was involved in an accident. Elliott held on to the top spot for the next 12 laps. His Dodge began to tighten up in the ensuing laps, and he lost the lead to the No. 20 car. Elliott remained in the top-five for the first half of the race. A quick pit stop by the Dodge Squad kept him up front, even gaining positions throughout the course of the race. A pit stop midway through the race hurt Elliott's top-five run when the car's lugnuts got stuck due to a wheel getting hung on the hub, forcing Elliott into the 24th spot. Elliott and his crew never gave up and continued to adjust the car to Elliott's needs. Several cautions came late in the race and Elliott methodically and patiently worked his way back through the field. He maneuvered into the 11th spot with less than 50 laps to go. His on-track experience was evident as Elliott sat in the seventh spot with under 15 laps to go. However, Elliott and his crew were gunning for more than a top-10 finish, and the veteran showed his experience on track by marching into the fourth spot.

POINTS RACE UPDATE

* Elliott matched his 2002 finish at California with a fourth place run last weekend. He gained considerable ground in the Winston Cup points race, moving eight spots to 21st place. Elliott is 21 points out of the 20th position and just 144 points out of the top 10.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Rusty Wallace , Steve Park , Ryan Newman , Bobby Allison