Wood Brothers Racing Phoenix II Post Race Report
Bill Elliott Finished 29th
Avondale, AZ (November 9, 2008)-It was not a typical race day at Phoenix International Raceway for Wood Brothers Racing in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. The afternoon began with clean racing and manageable handling issues but, for Bill Elliott in the no. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion, it turned out to be quite an oddity when rain fell on the desert landscaped track along with chilly 40 mile per hour winds, two red flag delays and what would have been a decent finish; ended the day 29th due to an involvement in an incident going to the checkered flag.
Elliott took the green flag in the 37th position and immediately reported a loose handling condition. The first caution occurred on lap 19 and the 21 team took the opportunity to pit in order to make adjustments and for position sake, put on two tires and added fuel.
The race restarted on lap 24 and Elliott was scored in 32nd position.
During the second caution on lap 30, Elliott commented, “the adjustments helped but, it’s not enough.” He came down pit road and crew chief David Hyder made the decision to add more adjustments, change all four tires and fuel. Elliott returned to the track where he restarted 35th on lap36. Yet, Nascar immediately called the yellow flag to wave because there were clean up trucks still on the backstretch of the track. At the same time, in an odd instance, rain began to fall over the track. As the rain continued, Nascar put out the red flag on lap 43 and parked the race cars on pit road. The race resumed under caution after the sun came out and the track was dry.The green flag waved again on lap 47 after the 23 minute delay.
By lap 63, Hyder radioed to Elliott, “Good lap times right there-fast as the top 10 cars.” However, the leader had passed to put the 21 down one lap.
Within the next 100 laps of the 312 lap event, Elliott fought changing handling conditions in the car. What was once tight, began feeling free but, tight in the center of the corner. On lap 210, Wood Brothers Racing co-owner, Eddie Wood, sat on the spotters stand for the race and called the next caution flag to Elliott for debris. Hyder decided to pit for more adjustments, four tires and fuel; Elliott was scored in 32nd where he restarted the race on lap 218.
As green flag laps continued and Elliott was able to keep the no. 21 running good lap times, a caution on lap 273 caused by an incident that involved eight cars, brought out the second red flag of the day. After the track service crews cleaned the debris from the track, the race got underway once again after the 19 minute delay. The green flag waved on lap 278, Elliott was scored in 31st, yet moved up to 27th within 10 laps.
Elliott stayed in and the around 27th position for the remainder of the race until caution on lap 306 would restart the race under the green, white checkered flag scenario. As the race resumed with three laps to go and Elliott was on his way to take the checkered flag, he was tangled in a multi-car incident that occurred coming out of turn four. The hit damaged the car so severely that it could not be driven across the finish line. Elliott was okay and walked away from the incident disappointed but unharmed.
Wood Brothers Racing will head to Miami-Homestead Speedway for the final race of the 2008 season with driver Bill Elliott behind the wheel of the no. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion for the Ford 400 on Sunday, November 16th.
*Photo by Dorsey Patrick Photography