Wood Brothers Racing Homestead-Miami Sprint Cup Post Race Report ; Elliott Closes Out Season with Best Finish 12th
Homestead, FL (November 16, 2008) In the last race of the 2008, Bill Elliott, behind the wheel of the no. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion, closed out the year by taking the checkered flag in 12th and along with good calls from the team, he earned his best finish of the season, respectfully, in the Wood Brothers Racing machine.
Just prior to Elliott taking the green flag in the 15th spot of the Ford 400 on Sunday November, 16th, crew chief David Hyder made a statement, “I just want to thank all of our sponsors for supporting us this year, Ford, Motorcraft and Air Force. I'd like to thank Eddie and Len for giving all of us this opportunity and Bill, it's been a pleasure working with you and I hope we can work together in the future.” Elliott responded, “I appreciate every one of you guys. You do one heck of a job.”
Lap 22, “It's free off turn four,” said Elliott. Green flag laps continued under a long run when on lap 40, Hyder radioed to Elliott, "Go get that 18 car, hammer down here.”
The first pit stop was scheduled under the green flag on lap 50, the team made an air pressure adjustment, put on four tires and added fuel. He went back to the track in 18th.On lap 69, caution flag flew for the first time. Elliott reported that the car was loose into turn one and loose coming off turn four. The crew made a chassis adjustment, put on four tires and fuel. He restarted on lap 74 in 19th. As the sun was setting, Elliott radioed to the crew, "I can't see a thing on the front straight-away." Within five laps he fell back to the 28th spot and reported that he felt the left side tires air pressures were too low.
He held onto it and moved up to 25th until Hyder scheduled the second green flag stop on lap 124. He made the call to put on two right side tires to gain track position and it worked. When the field went through the rotation of green flag stops and the no. 21 moved up to 20th but on lap 138, Elliott fell one lap down to the leaders and was holding on to the position directly behind the leader.
On lap 140, the caution flag flew once again and Elliott won his lost lap back with the Lucky Dog award. Hyder called him down to pit road for an air pressure adjustment on right side to fix the low pressure issue, and added two new left tires along with fuel. The race restarted on lap 146; Elliott was scored in the 21st position.
When the caution flag flew again on lap 151, another strategy call was made by Hyder, he had Elliott stop make a pit stop for fuel only, and this moved the no. 21 up to the 16th spot where he restarted the race on lap 156. Elliott stayed around the 16th position until another caution flag flew on lap 167, keeping track position in mind, Hyder called for the 21 pit crew to put on 2 right side tires and fuel only. When the race restarted on lap 172, Elliott was scored in 12th. During the restart with 85 laps to go, Hyder radioed to Elliott, “I need all you can give me, you’re doing a good job.”
The pivotal call of the race was under caution on lap 205, when Hyder, had Elliott come down pit road and the 21 crew put on two tires and fuel, then sent him back to the track, when the Nascar officials signal one lap to go before the green flag, Hyder called the no. 21 back down pit road to completely fill the tank. From that point of the 267 lap race, they could go the distance without stopping. The race restarted on lap 210; Elliott was scored in 23rd.
On lap 247, Elliott asked Hyder, “Do we have enough fuel?” Hyder replied,”Yes, we have enough fuel, now hammer down.” With 20 laps to go, cars in front of Elliott that needed to pit for fuel, began to do so. He moved up to the 15th spot then with 10 laps left , Hyder told Elliott to start conserving and slow down. More cars began to pit and run out of fuel. As the final laps ran down, Elliott brought home a 12th place finish.
Elliott talked about the night, “I’m proud for these guys. They did an awesome job today. We had a great car, made the right calls. Everything went well. We had a decent night, stayed out of trouble. We got a little off there once, but we kept fighting back and got it better. I mean, all in all, we had a good night.”
On Getting a Good Finish After Running Well Throughout The Race, “It’s important to these guys, especially where they’re at, fighting for sponsorship and stuff. And it goes to show you that racing can turn around, and things can get better. I’m just proud for these guys. They deserve better. We had a decent night, and we’ll take it and get out of here.”
*Photo by Dorsey Patrick Photography