Wood Brothers Racing Atlanta II NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Recap
Bill Elliott Finished 38th in the Pep Boys Auto 500
Hampton, Ga. (October 26, 2008)-Bill Elliott in the no. 21 Wood Brothers Racing U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion was looking forward to a very promising race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday after a productive Happy Hour final practice session on Saturday afternoon where the no. 21 was scored 11th quickest. However,the team got off to a discouraging start of the Pep Boys Auto 500 when two laps after taking the green flag in 37th, another race car hit Elliott from behind and turned the no.21 around. The spin caused him to slide into the interior wall of the racetrack that resulted in left side damage. The 21 team would work through the adversity and take the checkered flag in 38th.
With some significant damage to the 21, Elliott was able to drive the race car back to pit road where the pit crew changed four tires since the right front had blown during the incident. They also fixed the right fender and sent him back to the track. Crew chief David Hyder called him to immediately come back to pit road to fix the alignment that was off.The team took their time to fix the issue; the race restarted on lap six. As three laps passed, the 21 team sent Elliott back to the track in order to prevent losing more laps. They decided to make the rest of the adjustments on the next scheduled pit stop under caution.
On lap 22, Elliott reported a tight condition and Hyder responded, “Just do what you can, we'll loosen you up next time you pit.”
As Elliott ran laps, his times were clocked as fast as the leaders. The caution flag flew on lap 34, and Elliott pitted for four tires and fuel. The team didn't have time to make the adjustments that they had planned on doing to the alignment but,Elliott claimed the car was drivable. Bill said," It's really not that bad." Hyder decided to keep the no. 21 out on the track and wait for the next caution to fix the outstanding issues; Elliott restarted 42nd on lap 39.
The caution flag flew on lap 109 and Hyder called Elliott down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to combat the tight condition. He was sent back to the track in 42nd when the race restarted on lap 114.
When the yellow flag flew on lap 131, Elliott explained that the adjustments made on the previous stop didn't help the car, so Hyder chose to partially reverse the adjustments and put an additional chassis adjustment on the left rear. Bill restarted in 42nd on lap 135.
While the green flag laps continued, Elliott did all that he could to keep the ill handling race car on the track yet, on lap 140 he made contact with the wall. The occurrence didn’t cause a caution, nor did he need to make an unscheduled pit stop but, he communicated that he felt the splitter hitting the ground. On lap 180, Elliott informed the team that the car had an extreme tight handling condition. Hyder called for a scheduled green flag pit stop on lap 183 for four tires and fuel. Bill went back to the track in 42nd.
Caution flag flew again on lap 209, Hyder brought the no. 21 down pit road to make adjustments that would help with the tight handling race car. They also put on four tires and fuel; Elliott restarted the race in 42nd on lap 215. Hyder radioed to Bill, ”There are 110 laps to go, we just need to get what we can out of it.”
Within the five cautions over the next 100 laps, the 21 team worked hard on making adjustments to the car and Elliott continued to run lap times as fast as the leaders. Unfortunately, with the damage from the incident on lap two and lost laps, there was nothing more the team could do; Elliott would cross the finish line in 38th.
Wood Brothers Racing and Bill Elliott driving the no. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion will travel to Texas Motor Speedway for the Dickies 500 on Sunday, November 2nd.
Photo by Dorsey Patrick Photography