Wood Brothers to run Bonnett paint scheme at Talladega

STUART, Va. (October 10, 2000) -- Elliott Sadleris CITGO Ford will sport the same paint scheme Neil Bonnett drove when he raced the Wood Brothers Ford Thunderbird in 1989 at Talladega Superspeedway. Bonnett won 9 races in the Wood Brothers owned...

STUART, Va. (October 10, 2000) -- Elliott Sadleris CITGO Ford will sport the same paint scheme Neil Bonnett drove when he raced the Wood Brothers Ford Thunderbird in 1989 at Talladega Superspeedway. Bonnett won 9 races in the Wood Brothers owned Ford and was a part of the famous "Alabama Gang". Several members of the Wood Brothers team along with Dale Earnhardt recall their fondest memories of Neil Bonnett.

Dale Earnhardt: "I wish Neil was still here with us. He was a great friend to me and a lot of other people in the garage. We spent many days in Alabama hunting and fishing, enjoying each other's company. This weekend will be a nice tribute to Neil and a chance for Susan, Kristen and David to see just how much we all miss him."

Leonard Wood, 50 years with the team: "Neil is one of the nicest and most likeable drivers I've ever worked with. I don't know of one person in the garage who didn't like Neil because he was always so entertaining. As a driver he was very competitive and I never saw him get tired in a racecar. It didn't matter how hot it was he always came out of the car willing to run another 500 miles."

Hylton Tatum, 27 years with the team: "There was a time when Neil just couldn't qualify the car up front. Most of the teams would have been very disappointed with bad qualifying efforts but we were kind of happy with it. Not qualifying well presented a challenge to Neil and it was always a lot of fun to sit back and watch him work his way toward the front during the race. He is one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history and a down to earth person. It would have been easy to let the fame go to his head but he never did. He always made time for the people around him."

Eddie Wood, 29 years with the team: "My favorite memory with Neil was his first win with us at Talladega. He started on the outside pole and just went out and won the race. There was never a dull moment with Neil and his wit was what made him such a memorable person."

Lane "Butch" Moricle Jr., 22 years with the team: "Neil was one of the finest people I've ever been around. He always had a positive outlook and attitude no matter what circumstances surrounded him or the team. He was someone I was proud to call my friend and someone I miss. On the track he was an aggressive, fearless racecar driver. His goal was to be the best driver out there and in my mind he accomplished that."

Elliott Sadler, 2 years with the team: "Some of the best Wood Brothers stories I've heard had Neil Bonnett in them. Everyone on this team loved him and I feel privileged to be able to drive the same colors he drove back in the 1980is. I grew up a race fan and Neil was one of my favorite drivers. This weekend is a real honor for me and this entire season has been very special to me. The Wood Brothers turned 50 and that will only happens once. I had the chance to represent them in this special season and I'll always be thankful for that."

Elliott on Talladega: "The best way to describe Talladega to fans is imagine being on an interstate. Then imagine you are in the back of a 30-car pack with your cruise control on 75 miles per hour. The pack in front of you has their cruise control on 72 miles per hour and your goal is to make it from the back to the front without hitting anyone. You'd have to switch from the fast lane to the slow lane and barely have enough room to squeeze in line. That's what racing at Talladega feels like. The speeds are high but they don't seem nearly as fast as places like Atlanta and Texas. It's a three hour chess match and winner takes all."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Elliott Sadler