Richmond II: Bill Elliott preview

SOFT WALLS AT RICHMOND "I am proud of what they're trying to accomplish. I think anytime we go for better, safer ideas, I think that's the evolution of what we've learned from Dale's incident at Daytona several years ago. Everything we've done...


"I am proud of what they're trying to accomplish. I think anytime we go for better, safer ideas, I think that's the evolution of what we've learned from Dale's incident at Daytona several years ago. Everything we've done now is in a positive direction. It's just stuff I feel like should have been done before this."


"I've been up and down there. It's a good little racetrack, and I think the changes they've made with the soft walls only make it better. They key is track position, track position, track position. I can't say it enough. You've got to have it to have a shot at the end. Just look at last weekend, Terry won the race off of pit road there at the end and ended up winning the race. I was happy for him."


"I think the strengths are long term. I think Ray has got a good plan of where he's going business wise. It's just like any race team out there today. A lot of teams are excellent race teams and we've got all the pieces of the puzzle, but we can't get 'em all to fit together. You go through points in time, and people become as big a factor in that than anything. You look at all the teams and get a couple of pieces that don't fit, and as close as competition is today it magnifies your problem. It isn't as bad as you may appear it to be. It's just a part of trying to get everything to work. Just like I told Mike (crew chief Ford). We went to Kentucky and tested Wednesday and Thursday (of last week) and I said now we're not looking for a tenth of a second. We're looking for hundredths and thousandths of a second when you go to the racetracks. Like Bristol, you look at the monitors and everybody was running the same time. How in the heck are you going to pass? How do you get an edge on anybody? Right now, people are doing such way out things to try to get an edge as far as different setups. Used to be you'd come to these places and chassis meant a lot. You kinda had a standard setup of what you wanted with four springs and four shocks. Now everybody is going so far out of the box that they're looking for different stuff. Sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don't. I think just looking at the consistency of all the teams, that's more prevalent than ever before. Everybody is looking for that magic something that will give them the edge. I don't think it's a people issue or a team issue or anything else. It's easy to get people down if you have a couple of bad races, yet if you have some good races it's easy to keep that momentum going. Ray's done a great job. I think this race team is capable of winning races and we just need to keep putting that part of the puzzle together."


Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive chassis No. 22, which he drove at Richmond and Martinsville this spring. His top-finish in this chassis is 13th, which he claimed at Martinsville in April.



This will be Elliott's 44th career start at Richmond International Raceway. He has one win, three poles, eight top-fives and 15 top-10s at the track. Elliott has led 12 races at Richmond for a total of 492 laps.


Elliott's three Bud Poles at Richmond tie him with Rusty Wallace for the second-most among active drivers (J. Gordon - four) on the racetrack's ¾-mile configuration.


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).


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.


Following his fifth-place run last weekend at Darlington Speedway, Elliott moves to 14th place in the Winston Cup points race. He is 149 points out of the next spot and 201 points out of the top-10.


Elliott was forced to start from the rear of the field after changing engines for the 2003 Pontiac Excitement 400. He quickly moved up from the last row and was into the top-20 by lap 140 when he came in for a wedge and air pressure adjustment. A quick stop by the Dodge Squad also helped improve Elliott's on-track position by four spots. Pit strategy played out well for the No. 9 team as Elliott found himself in the fourth position. He took the lead from the 24 car on lap 280 with the threat of rain looming. Elliott had few complaints about the handling of his No. 9 Dodge and on lap 299 came in for four tires. He remained in the top-10, but the car began to tighten up and several late race cautions played havoc with strategy. While fighting to maintain a position in the top-15, he pitted for the final time on lap 371 to put on four new tires in order to make a run at the leaders. Several more cautions and rain in the closing laps cost Elliott the valuable green flag run he needed to catch the leaders. He finished in 20th place.


Elliott was the stealthy veteran throughout last weekend's Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He used patience and good tire management to maintain his position on the track. Mike Ford used good communication and conservative adjustments to help keep Elliott's Dodge manageable for the three-time Southern 500 winner. Elliott started from the 22nd position and immediately began to advance.

The former Winston Cup champion managed to avoid the so-called Darlington stripe, keeping his No. 9 Dodge in condition to finish the race at the notoriously difficult to drive 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. Elliott needed only minor adjustments and four fresh tires throughout the day to keep him moving through the field and maintaining his position on the track. Good work in the pits enabled Elliott to remain in the top-10 throughout the closing laps of the race. Several late cautions put lapped traffic in between the No. 9 Dodge and the leader and clean air made the difference as the leader was able to pull away from the other top cars. Elliott's excellent driving enabled him to stay up front though, and he was rewarded with a fifth-place finish.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Allison