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News and Results | Point Standings | 2004 Schedule | 2004 Teams | 2003 Schedule and Results


Dodge Quotes - Daytona Test - Session Two, Day Three

Bill Elliott
BILL ELLIOTT (No. 91 Evernham Motorsports Dodge)

ďIíll be here the whole time (Speedweeks), just any way I can help out. If things had been a little bit different, I probably would have tried to work on running the 500. I felt like at this point in time and as late as everything came together, I didnít want to take away from Jeremy and Kasey trying to get all their focus on the 500. The 500 is such an important race for Dodge and the race team as a whole. To me, thatís the key part. I feel like if I can contribute by running the Bud Shootout and be a part of that and then help them through the 125s and 500 Ė Jeremy or Kasey either one.Ē

HOW MANY RACES WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN THIS SEASON? ďRight now, weíre still looking at different stuff. Hopefully, (we can run a) minimum of five. Weíve got three slated. Worst case scenario, hopefully we could do five. Best case scenario, Iíd like to run about 15.Ē

TALK ABOUT HOW YOU AND RAY EVERNHAM ARE FACING 2004 SEASON ďI told him all we needed was a bottle of Geritol. You come in with a different mindset. I guess with me not facing the whole season and I didnít realize what a grind that was over the last number of years. When you go through so many ups and downs in the seasonÖ You typically come to Daytona and test and if the team chemistry is not there, it makes for a miserable start to the season. Then you start chipping away at the race, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and all that becomes such a grind it makes it difficult. Now Iím coming in with a whole different attitude from the standpoint that Iím just trying to contribute any way I can and help the team as a whole and being able to say, ĎIíll run this race. I might run this race. I might run a truck, a Busch car, go run my dirt car.í Iíve got a lot of things slated. Iíve just got to put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out exactly what Iím going to do, but the main goal is to help Ray get his organization better in any way I can help and then go from there. We were having a good time (yesterday). The last couple of days have been really good. Things have clicked together very well. Weíve learned a lot of things and hopefully we can relate it to Jeremy and Kasey when they come back and itíll help us as far as the Bud Shootout is concerned.Ē

ARE YOU BASICALLY RUNNING AN R&D CAR? ďYou could call it that. Ray is coming out with his own chassis, and weíre going to research that and help get that started. What races weíll slate to run that, I donít know. The car I had that ran so well last fall is the car Iíll run at Vegas, so weíve got a lot of pieces of the puzzle out there and now we just need to mesh it all together. Itís kind of a different role for me, and itís a unique role for me. Iím not necessarily walking from it. Iím contributing in a lot of different ways. Iíve got a lot of knowledge over whatís gone on, just like coming here and unloading on Tuesday. There were a lot of things I thought we could work through and get a little better. Some of it worked and some didnít work. The years of input are hard to beat in several different ways.Ē

IS THE POINTS PRESSURE OFF AND NOW YOU CAN JUST GO OUT TO WIN? ďYes, very much. I can already see that at this point, from the testing side of it. Going out and you donít have to worry about points and a lot of other different things that dictate Ďdo I make this decision or do I make that decision?í Youíve got to put things more on the ragged edge. Typically the way the races have gone, especially this past year, some of the guys have got their stuff together and have been able to have it all and win races. Just like us at the very tail of the season, it seemed like we got everything together and it worked well. Weíre going to try to take it to the next step and see if we canít make us better as a whole race team.Ē

HAVE YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY YET TO CUT BACK? ďItís still been very hectic. Iíve been trying to, but itís not happened yet. There again, when I walked in down here, it just seemed like I had a whole different mindset toward the season. Itís like, man I can go out and do different things and look at things a lot differently. I think sometimes thatís a good side of it. Whether I do this two or three years down the road and then decide what Iím going to do from that standpoint. I think probably a lot of guys will look and see what Iím doing, especially at the age that Iím at. Maybe thatís not a bad thing to do. The stuff off the track, I really havenít had time to change. Iíve been doing stuff. I help Ray to promotional stuff. Weíve still got a lot of things going on, but I think thatíll change as the season progresses. Weíve still got a lot of things slated to do. Iíve got a good friend of mine back home, Ray Cook, who runs a late model dirt car. I think he starts the first week of February, and Iím going try to help him some and run with him some. Iíve got a lot of things slated that I want to do. My first goal is to try to take care of Ray and make sure I can contribute whatever I can from my side and then move on.Ē

DO YOU HAVE EQUIPMENT TO RUN BUSCH OR TRUCK RACES? ďIíve got a lot of stuff left from the McDonaldís days other than just getting the parts and pieces. I mentioned to Bobby Hamilton. We were at the Detroit Auto Show Friday night, and I talked to him a little bit. I told him if something came up to give me a shout. If a certain deal comes up that sounds good, I might go run a Cup car. I might run a truck or Busch car. Iím so flexible at this point in time. The money is not the same, but if I was in it for the money I would have quit a long time ago. Thatís my favorite saying now. Thatís very true. I could have done things differently to this point, but Iím very happy with where Iím at right now. Itís kind of a new era for me. Itís a new look. One side of you says Iím going to miss all the races and the other side says, well, Iím not going to miss Ďem. When it comes Monday morning and youíre beat up from running 500 miles on Sunday afternoon, that Iím not going to miss.Ē


OPINION ON ALCOHOL COMPANY AS A SPONSOR IN SERIES ďIt brings another avenue of money into the sport. Iím not opposed to it at this point in time. I donít know if Iím totally for it, but Iím not necessarily opposed to it. I drove beer sponsored cars for 10 years. Theyíre the kind of people that have the money, and I always tried to look at it as doing things sensibly. Itís all about that mesh. I feel like itís a good avenue, and Iím not opposed to it at this point in time.Ē

IS THIS A DEAL WHERE YOU CAN DEAL WITH THINGS MORE IN YOUR OWN TERMS? ďProbably so, looking at it from that standpoint, very much so, and being able to be flexible. Youíve got to understand when I started running all the races in 1983, you had a 28 or 30-race schedule. Then every year as things progressed they added more. That one more turned into 38 events counting the Shootout and Nextel Cup Challenge or whatever itís going to be this year. With that being said, thatís a tough grind. If you start in February and end in November and youíre back here testing in January, I donít think people really realize what a grind that really is. Itís not only physically for the drivers, crews and everyone involved, but just from my standpoint, man, I need a timeout here. Iíve done this for so long, Iíd just like to see things from the other side a little bit and still enjoy some parts of the racing. I donít think I could just totally walk away. That would be the hard part of it. I think Iíve got a lot of feedback to give to Ray, and Kasey and Jeremy. Jeremy and I have been pretty close over the last two or three years, and any way I can help any one of them, or help Ray as a whole or the Dodge program, thatís basically what Iím here to do. As long as I can stay current and keep up with that side of it, those are my goals and thatís where I want to be.Ē

ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE A LOAD OFF OF RAY? ďWeíve gotten a lot closer over the winter. Weíve done a lot more stuff together. I feel like I can take a lot of that burden off of him. Weíve talked extensively about that, not only from the knowledge of the business side from running my own deal for six years, but some of the things heís going through with his side of the business and the promotional side. What helped me coming to Rayís deal, I had either Jeremy or Casey Atwood there in the past to brunt some of my side of it. Now, I can turn around and where Ray spreads it thin, then maybe I can be plugged in and helped everybody as a whole. Instead of just walking away, which didnít make sense, as long as I can stay here and be a part of it and give input, thatís what Iíll do.Ē

WHERE WILL YOU WATCH THE DAYTONA 500? ďThatís a good question. After the 125s, who knows? I may be in it. Weíll see what transpires, but right now I donít know. Iím just here to fit in anywhere I can. Iím just part of the puzzle. Plug me in wherever I need to be. If something came up, Iím sure Ray would entertain the idea. Iíll leave it at that. From the other side of the coin, with the way it stood today, I donít want to take away from those two guysí efforts with them running a full season. As of today, not being well enough prepared to do that, but things could change. Weíre kind of flexible. Weíll roll with the flow. Right now, for sure weíre going to run the Shootout, Vegas and Texas. From there, weíll see what transpires and weíll adjust as we go along.Ē

IF SOMEONE CAME ALONG WITH A MILLION DOLLARS FOR YOU TO RUN THE DAYTONA 500, WOULD THAT BE ENOUGH? ďPay me. Write the check. It isnít about money from my side, but it is about money to run the car. It takes money to run the car.Ē

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR CAREER PROGRESSING FROM HERE? ďWhat Iíd like to do is do this for about three years. Thatís kind of my goal, maybe come next year with a little better plan. Weíll work this year out and work some of the bugs out and access where weíre at. I never really want to quit driving. Maybe retire from this level, but whether I go run a Busch car or truck, always have that option. Iíve run the truck two times for Jim Smith. The first time I ran second at Vegas and the next time we had motor problems, but we were running well. Thatís part of the sport you can expand out and go to the grassroots fans. Now is a time for me to give back. I can be myself, be more laid back and do more with the fans.Ē

ARE OTHER DRIVERS TALKING TO YOU ABOUT YOUR PLANS? ďRusty said he envied me from the standpoint of what weíre trying to do. I wish weíd had it planned out a little better, but itíll come together. I think things will be well received when we get things in place. I think for the most part, itís been whatever I feel like. Nobody does anything forever. Thatís just a given fact. Itís still good to see youíre going to be around the sport and compete in some events. Itís kind of a bittersweet deal.Ē

WHEN DID YOU ACTUALLY MAKE THE DECISION? ďProbably more in the fall. It hinged on a lot of things. Ray wanted to put the deal together with Kasey and it depended on how all that came together. I couldnít say anything until all that came together. The other set of the coin is, I didnít want to take anything away from the raceteam. We focused on racing, did our best and that was our goal. That (Mike Fordís plans) had something to do with it. Sammy Johns and Ray will tag team me this year. Iíll do quite a bit of testing. We really havenít run the soft tires yet except here. Weíre going to Vegas in a couple of weeks, and weíll know more about it then.Ē

Rusty Wallace
RUSTY WALLACE (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

ďRight now weíre running pretty good. Weíre kinda stuck on one speed. Weíre running 48.30, 48.30, 48.30 (ninth fastest in morning session at 48.279 seconds, 186.416 mph). After lunch weíre going to make some serious attempts to get some qualifying runs in, some gear ratio stuff and start blocking it up slowly and things like that. Weíve done so much work right now. I donít think we can make the bodies run any faster. Weíve done all kind of stuff there. Aerodynamically I think weíre as good as weíre going to get. What fixes these cars right up is more horsepower under the hood when we get back, so I think the engine shop will probably have about 10 more horsepower when we come back, they generally do. Weíve got our Bud Shootout car finished right now, so weíll be ready for that 3-5 drafting session. Weíll see how that goes. Iím expecting some good things.Ē

WHY IS WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 SO IMPORTANT TO YOU? ďWeíve come so close to winning it so many times. Weíd lose it with 10 laps to go and five laps to go and things like that. Maybe itíll be my year this year. I feel like Iíve got just as good a car as Iíve ever had. Our practice speeds have been pretty strong. Weíve been in the top 10 the past two or three days. I believe the performance is definitely there in the car. Itís just what lane you get in. Iíve always told everybody you canít win this race until youíre coming off turn four. Going into turn three is where all hell breaks loose. Then at the checkered flag, whatever line you get in and whatever drafting partner youíve got, thatís going to get you to victory lane.Ē

TALK ABOUT RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACING ďIíve been awfully close. Every time I come to Daytona, itís been kind to me the last six or seven races. Iíve been very, very close. Weíve had good runs in the 125s and good runs in the Bud Shootout, and I really enjoy coming down here. Itís just a matter of where youíre at going into turn three on that last lap. Get yourself in position to make a good run and you can win this thing. Our Bud Shootout car is the car I had at Talladega (2003). I was running third with it with two laps to go. I let Stewart get underneath me off turn four and about four of Ďem drafted past me. I think I finished seventh or eighth in that race. The speedway stuff for Penske Racing has been pretty good. Iíve got high hopes for this race. Iíd love to win this thing and get back in the winnerís circle. Iíve won about every single track out there except Daytona. Iíve won in different divisions, IROC and stuff like that, but never in Cup. Iíd like to do that. I really donít like to focus on those bad days in the past.Ē

ďI love racing a lot and I plan on racing for at least two more years. Iím not guaranteeing anything after that. Iím not going to say Iím going to stop after two years, either. My Miller contract is for two more years. I still enjoy what Iím doing a whole lot. I do enjoy other things, also. I enjoy my car dealerships, building the Busch team. I just took over all of Miller Brewing Companyís show car programs. RWI is operating all the show car programs for Miller Brewing now as of about a month ago. Iím doing some things with Bell Helicopter next year. I just signed a new four-year personal services contract with Bell Helicopter. Bombardier Aerospace is on my uniform this year. Itíll be on the 2, 12 and 77. The teams will fly a new style jet this year to bring all the people to the track. I enjoy doing that type of stuff. I really enjoy racing, but I find Iíve got to start managing my time a little better. Even during the off season, I found myself going and going all the time. We didnít take any vacation this year. We stayed around the house and went up to North Carolina to our log home up there, but other than that, it was wide open all the time.Ē

DOES IT SURPRISE YOU THAT SOME VETERANS HAVE NEVER WON DAYTONA 500? ďIt is amazing. I remember Dale went forever with people asking him when he was going to win the Daytona 500. He won it and it wasnít an hour later he told me theyíd start asking me when I was going to win it. Thatís a compliment to me. We were pretty good friends. I really think Iíve got the car. Itís so much luck at this place. Youíre wide open on the gas in every single corner. Generally the car that qualifies the fastest is the favorite down here because itís aerodynamics and horsepower. Itís not so much about handling. Handling is important, donít get me wrong, but aerodynamics and horsepower really play a big, big role. Michael Waltrip will tell you that. DEI has done a good job figuring it out. Our guys at Penske Engines are probably the leaders in horsepower everywhere else. Weíre doing pretty doggone good here right now. Itíll be interesting to see how we net out here tonight and go back and chassis dyno that car and see what weíve got when we come back. Itís always more. I just hope itís a lot more.Ē

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO CONTINUE DOMINATION? ďWeíve all been there. I remember when Jeff Gordon won all his races and I won all my races and Ryan did it last year. Itís hard to do that year in and year out. I had nine poles and four wins a couple of years ago. Then I had nine poles the next season and the next season I had no poles, so I go from nine to no poles. I didnít change as a driver. Rules changed and things changed, scenarios changed that kept me from it. I came close plenty of times. I remember I qualified second four times and Jeff Gordon beat me out in all of them. It changes so dramatically year after year. Itís tough to keep up that steam. From last year to this year, weíve got huge rule changes. Rules changes I welcome, the shorter spoilers and softer tires. That type of stuff is really going to show up when we get to Las Vegas. At Rockingham, itís always been a track that wears the tires a lot. Weíre not going to have a tire issue there. These other tracks, the tires were so hard they jus t wouldnít wear. Theyíre always going to wear at Rockingham. Weíre really going to show the new rules when we show up at Vegas. Thatís where theyíre really going to shine.

ďI think Ryan will adjust to it. Weíre learning a lot of things from year to year. The springs are so soft. The swaybars are so big. We didnít know we could do that in the past. Now we know we can do that. Thatís something youíre not going to give up. Ryan will adjust fine to it. I donít know what itís going to take with less spoiler and softer tires. I donít know if itís going to take softer rear springs to accommodate that. I donít know what itís going to take. As we speak right now, my car is in Georgia in the wind tunnel getting ready for Rockingham.

ďI feel my driving style, what Iíve been accustomed to is working on the car and get it working good. Iím more of a hands-on chassis guy. A lot of these races last year was just track position. You couldnít get around the guys. As far as the Brendan Gaughan thing, I can give you the breakdown of the ownership structure. Basically, I own 24 percent of the 2 car and 12 car. Now weíve taken the 77 car and purchased it from Doug Bawel and put it under Penske South. Now myself, Don Miller, Roger Penske own the 3 cars down. John Erickson owns five percent of the team now. Weíve made him an owner. Heís done a good job managing and heís become a minority owner. Also, Doug Bawel owns a percentage of the 77 car, but the majority ownership has been split up between Penske South. Itís all under one camp.

ďIím looking forward to racing with Brendan. I took him to the Detroit Auto Show and had a blast. He absolutely runs 300 mph. Everybody thinks Iím wide open. This guy is a little stronger than I am. Heís having a good time with life, Iíll tell you that. When we go out to Las Vegas, weíll get some good hotel deals.Ē


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