Watkins Glen: Bill Elliott preview

Bill Elliott No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T RAY EVERNHAM ON WHY INDY WAS A BIG WIN FOR THE TEAM "I guess I did get a little emotional on Sunday, but I don't think anyone understands how hard it was to get to this point. There's been a lot of...

Bill Elliott
No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T

"I guess I did get a little emotional on Sunday, but I don't think anyone understands how hard it was to get to this point. There's been a lot of suffering to put this deal together, not just by me, but by everyone involved. I guess that's why it was such an emotional win for me."

"It's a dream come true for me but I'm telling you, there's no way I could have done it without these guys - Mike (Ford, crew chief), Kenny (engineer), Derek (engineer), Mike Hawkins (engine tuner), Vince (shock specialist) and all the guys. It's been a matter of everybody coming together as a team. The guys have worked so hard. I don't get up to the shop in Statesville very much, but I know how much effort the guys have put into this deal. The group that Ray has put together has been so supportive of me and that has helped me out a tremendous amount, and that just makes my job easier. I'm the one people see on Sunday afternoon, but it's the people back in the shop that really put it together and really help make it happen."

"It's a great feeling. I feel like it is kind of a second chance. I've had some lean years. I look back at it when we were struggling then, and I'm telling you it was tough. Ray's given me another chance. I've got a good stable situation right now and that helps me focus on doing what I need to do. We're heading out to Watkins Glen and I like road courses. It's something a little different. We did all right earlier out at Sears Point. We're communicating well and this team is really gelling, so we'll just keep doing what we're doing and we should be fine."

* This weekend, Evernham Motorsports and the No. 9 Dodge Dealers team will use the same car that Bill Elliott qualified fifth and finished eighth in this year at Infineon Raceway.

* Bill Elliott has three top-five and five top-10 finishes in 15 appearances at Watkins Glen. His top finish at the track is third, which he earned in 1988 race. Elliott's best start, second, came in the 1995 race. Last year, Elliott finished 24th after starting the day in the 21st spot.

* Last weekend at the Brickyard 400, Elliott dominated in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, leading 93 of the 160 laps, including the final twelve on the way to his 43rd career victory. Elliott narrowly missed gaining his third consecutive pole of the season, starting instead on the outside of row one. His lap of 49.421/182.109 mph was faster than the previous track record but slower than the 49.191/182.960 mph ran by pole sitter Tony Stewart. Elliott and Stewart got out to a commanding lead in the early stages of the race. Elliott tucked his No. 9 Dodge machine up under the No. 20 machine of Stewart. Stewart's lead on Elliott on lap 3 was .155 seconds. On lap 11, Elliott attempted to pass Stewart on the backstretch, but Stewart held him off. A caution on lap 12 brought most of the field in for service. Stewart came out first with Elliott right behind him. Elliott assumed the lead for the first time after the second round of pit stops on lap 39. The No. 9 Dodge Squad allowed Elliott to keep track position, pulling off under-14 second pit stops throughout the day. Elliott's lead would grow and on lap 44 Elliott led Stewart by .256. Elliott never fell below the seventh spot and that was due only to pit stops by various cars, calling for fuel only or two tires. Crew chief Mike Ford relied on four tires and his fast and efficient pit crew to keep Elliott moving forward. On lap 136 (out of 160) he began a run for the lead passing the No. 6 car for fourth place, on the next lap passing the No. 29 car for third, followed by a pass on the No. 20 for second, effectively setting up a dramatic run on the No. 2 car for the lead. On lap 149, Elliott methodically picked his moment and took the lead. A late race caution would bunch the field up one more time, but Elliott would get an excellent jump on the green flag to hold off the No.2 car to claim his first Brickyard win.

* Elliott's Brickyard 400 win also was record-setting as no driver has won from the front row at the historic race.

* Elliott's win at Indianapolis was his first victory and seventh top-10 finish in his nine races at the track. His previous best finish at Indianapolis was third in 1994 and 2000. Elliott's back-to-back wins are the first by any driver this year, and his first back-to-back victories since March 1992 when he won at Darlington and Atlanta as part of a four-in-a-row streak.

* Last year at Watkins Glen, what appeared to be another top-five finish for the No. 9 Dodge turned into a 24th place finish after Elliott was spun out with less than six laps to go in the 90-lap race. Elliott moved up early from a 21st place starting spot and fought his way into the top five where he looked certain to finish until the on-track incident late in the race took him out of contention.

* Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T has led laps in six of the past nine races (17 at Dover, 26 in June at Pocono, 31 at Michigan, three at Sears Point, 35 in July at Pocono and 93 at Indianapolis). He has led in nine races this year for a total of 222 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 ten spots higher, is finishing more than five spots better in each race, and has two more wins, three more poles, two more top-five and four more top-10s than he did after 21 races in 2001. Currently, Elliott sits in 6th place, just 39 points out of fifth and 210 points out of first.

* When Bill Elliott won the Pennsylvania 500, he became the all-time winningest driver at Pocono Raceway. Driving the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T, Elliott won his fifth race at the 2.5-mile track. It was also the first time this season that a driver has won from the pole.

* Elliott's second-place finish at Dover was his 300th career top-10 finish in 26 years of Winston Cup racing. Elliott has nine top-10s through the first 20 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.

* Elliott's win at Pocono was his best finish since his Nov. 11th victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. He has 43 victories in his 27 seasons racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart