Sonoma: Bill Elliott preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T THOUGHTS ON SEARS POINT "I've enjoyed running at Sears Point over the years. I am fairly comfortable on road courses. It's nice to have a little variety in the season -- turn left and right for a...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T

THOUGHTS ON SEARS POINT

"I've enjoyed running at Sears Point over the years. I am fairly comfortable on road courses. It's nice to have a little variety in the season -- turn left and right for a change. The area is really pretty nice too. It's close to San Francisco. I know people go visit Alcatraz and things like that. You've also got the wineries and the golf courses that a lot of people like to check out when we come out here. There's a lot to do."

RUNNING AT SEARS POINT

"We had a decent run there last time in the Dodge. We think we should be okay this time around too. I got my first Winston Cup win at a road coarse back at Riverside. You've got to have a decent set up to get around. I would have to say that track position is really one of the big keys here. It's just so hard to pass at these places. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in qualifying on Friday to see where we'll start on Sunday."

STATS & FACTS

Elliott's second-place finish at Dover was his 300th career top-10 finish in 26 years of Winston Cup racing. Elliott has six top-10s through the first 15 races in 2002. In 2001 Elliott earned nine top-10s. He earned a career-high 24 top-10s in 30 races in 1984, finishing third in the points standings.

In his visit to Sears Point last year, Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T brought home his third top 10 for the season and second in three races, finishing the day at ninth. He showed his patience throughout the day, starting 18th and running in the 10th position for most of the day. He avoided several spins and a late accident to move to ninth, the highest he ran all day.

Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T has led laps in the past three races (17 at Dover, 26 at Pocono, 31 at Michigan).  He has led in five races this year for a total of 91 laps.  Elliott led nine races in 2001 for a total of 171 laps.

Elliott looks even better in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T than he did at this point last year. Elliott ranks seven spots higher, is finishing an average of nearly six spots better in each race, and has one more pole, one more top-five and five more top-10s than he did after 15 races in 2001. Currently, Elliott ranks 10th in the points race just 13 points out of ninth place and 149 points out of fifth.

Last Sunday at Michigan, Elliott, who holds the record among active drivers for most poles (six) and most wins (seven) at the speedway, earned a fourth-place starting spot. He took the lead from the pole sitter on the first lap and regained it again on lap 18, leading a total of 31 laps (the second most on the day). It is the third consecutive race that Elliott has a led a lap. Elliott remained on the lead lap all day despite a caution on lap 97 that put several of the leaders out of pit sequence. Elliott was able to close up the space and battled with the leaders for the remainder of the race. A caution on lap 180 brought the No. 9 Dodge Intrepid R/T in for the final time for two tires and fuel. The leaders opted for fuel only. Elliott moved into 7th place until the race was red flagged on lap 195. Elliott stayed out for track position while several of the leaders pitted for tires under the caution. Elliott battled with several cars on the restart with just three laps to go. He would hold on to 11th place, the highest finishing Dodge.

Elliott's second place finish at Dover was his second top five in 2002 and his best finish since his Nov. 11th victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. He led twice for 17 laps, earning five bonus points and helping him make up valuable ground in the Winston Cup points race.

Elliott's pole position this year at Texas was his second of the year (Atlanta), and third in the span of 10 races - dating back to the November 11 race at Homestead/Miami last year. It was Elliott's 53rd career Bud Pole in 668 Winston Cup races, placing him third behind David Pearson (57) and Darrell Waltrip (59) in Modern-era Winston Cup career poles (Elliott ranks first among active drivers).

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Darrell Waltrip