HIGH POINT, NC -- As do most head engine builders, Terry Elledge takes it very personally when one of the engines from his Bill Davis Racing motor operation suffers an at-track problem. In a cumulative 130 races since joining BDR in winter, 1997...
HIGH POINT, NC -- As do most head engine builders, Terry Elledge takes it very personally when one of the engines from his Bill Davis Racing motor operation suffers an at-track problem. In a cumulative 130 races since joining BDR in winter, 1997 between the Amoco Ultimate Team 93 NASCAR Busch/Winston Cup Series teams and the #22 Caterpillar Pontiac, Elledge's power plants have failed only four times in points events and have helped drivers Dave Blaney and Ward Burton, respectively, to progress to lofty achievements in their respective divisions.
Including their 1998-99 totals, Blaney and Burton combined for nine pole positions, six outside pole positions and had qualified in the top-15 in 70 of 130 starts (54%). With only 51 Busch Series races under his belt, Blaney was particularly strong, qualifying in the top-ten for over half of his career starts with motors prepared by Amoco team engine builder Brad Thrower, including track-record pole efforts at Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas, Colorado Springs and Michigan, and finishing sixth in the final BGN team points. Burton added another track-record BGN pole at Darlington in fall, 1999.
Last season, Burton traded some of his qualifying edge from 1998 for front-running finishes and position in the top ten of the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings. The season by both Burton and the #22 Caterpillar team produced career-highs for each in points (ninth), top-five (six) and top-ten (16) finishes as well as runner-up finishes at Las Vegas, Darlington and Rockingham. And three costly 40-plus mid-summer finishes within a month also cost Burton another strong showing in the critical miles-completed category (12th in 1999) in which he finished fifth among all Winston Cup Series regulars during the 1998 season.
With the new BGN program for Mike Borkowski, additional Busch Series races for Burton and Blaney as well as motor support for Mike Swaim, Jr.'s ARCA efforts and the move of Blaney's program to Winston Cup, Elledge has added key personnel, hiring 14 additional people to his motor-room staff as BDR moves to become the 11th multiple-car Winston Cup operation in 2000.
"We have made great progress in every area of our motor program in the two years I've been here but we don't want to sacrifice any of our gains as we move forward with the expanded Winston Cup goals that we have for the #93 Amoco-Siemens team or the other programs that we're taking on in addition to the #22 team," said Elledge, who joined BDR in December, 1997 after five seasons as Engine Department Manager for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Dale Earnhardt.
"I've been through this process before, having been at RCR during the expansion to add a second team there. As with every other area in this sport these days, the real challenge comes down to people--adding the right ones with not only the aptitude but the attitude to fit your existing group of people. We've just been through a real crunch time so we'll try to step back and get a good barometer on how we've done in our area and try to move ahead and meet the future demands."
Not including test sessions, Elledge's motor program may provide engines for 145-plus different BDR Winston Cup, Busch Series and ARCA entries during the 2000 season. And while the back-time planning necessary for ordering inventory increases as the sport expands, Elledge's most critical concern in maintaining the reliability and consistency of the BDR engines have proven effective for both the #93 Amoco Ultimate and the #22 Cat-Siemens-Amoco teams.
"All the engines on both our trucks are relatively even now in terms of performance so if either Dave or Ward has a problem at the track, we know that they put another motor in that is just as strong and reliable as the last one," said Elledge, whose 20-plus seasons in racing include stints for drivers (Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Rusty Wallace, Benny Parsons) who have collectively won 16 Winston Cup championships. "That's extremely important for Ward and the #22 team as they try to make the step up and contend with the first-tier teams for poles and wins each week this coming season. But, while it's less visible, it's probably more important for a guy like Dave Blaney, who's still learning the stock cars and needs to know his motors are consistent and strong each week.
"With Dave's first full Winston Cup season coming up this year, it will be even more important when the Amoco team goes to test and to race that (Crew Chief) Gil Martin knows and Dave Blaney knows that they've got the same capabilities under the hood that the #22 team has when they begin to work on Dave learning Winston Cup cars. That confidence has got to be there for him to progress like he has in the Busch cars and I think it will be."