Wood Brothers Racing Richmond II Post Race Report
Elliott Finished 35th in Chevy Rock & Roll driving no. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion
Richmond, VA (September 7, 2008)- After Saturday’s race was delayed until Sunday, September 7th due to Tropical Storm Hanna’s presence in the Richmond area, Bill Elliott started the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 in the 37th position. Elliott used the first 10 laps to get a feel for the no. 21 Wood Brothers Racing U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion, since there had been no practice and no track activity since Friday. As he raced around the 35th position, caution flew on lap 35. Bill reported that the car needed more traction coming off of the corners and that he was experiencing a tight condition. He believed that as more laps were run on the track, it would eventually get tighter and less slick as it was under the hot sun. Crew Chief David Hyder brought the no. 21 down pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Bill restarted in the 36th position on lap 42. On lap 84, leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Elliott to put the no.21 one lap down.
Caution again flew on lap 98. Bill reported more handling issues, so Hyder requested the no. 21 pit for more adjustments, four tires and fuel. He went back to the track in 38th on lap 102.
Two more cautions ensued within the next 10 laps, however Hyder kept the 21 out on the track for both cautions. On lap 127, Elliott was scored in 37th.
On lap 201, Bill reported that the tight handling issues persisted. On lap 204, the 21 team pit for four tires and fuel along with making another adjustment to assist with the tight condition. He restarted the race in 38th on lap 208. On lap 226, he reported that the car was getting better. In an effort to make up the lost lap, the team made the decision to pit only if the other cars on the same lap stayed out.
When the no. 42 did not pit, Hyder made the call for Bill to pit. However, Bill had already passed the commitment line and couldn't stop. Hyder said, “We'll be alright. We'll just pit on the next caution." The race restarted on lap 232 with Elliott in 34th. 10 laps passed and the team had their opportunity to pit after another caution flag flew. The no. 21 came down pit road where the pit crew put on four fresh tires and fuel. The race resumed on lap 246; Elliott was in 36th.
On lap 265, Hyder radioed to the crew and driver, “The lap times were as good as the top three cars.” Unfortunately, on lap 315, the #43 lost control and collected Bill in the incident, yet the no. 21 experienced only minor damage. Elliott came down pit road for four tires and fuel and to repair any damage. The pit crew pulled the fender away from the left rear and sent him back to the track. With one lap to go before the restart, NASCAR put Bill at the end of the longest line for pitting before pit road was open. Bill restarted the race 35th on lap 320. Within 10 laps, Elliott reported that the engine was running hot. Hyder decided that the next time the caution flag flew, which happened on lap 360, the 21 crew would remove some tape from the nose of the car and put on four tires and fuel.
After removing the tape, adding fuel and changing tires, green flag racing resumed. However, the 21’s engine continued to run hot. During the next caution, which transpired on lap 370, Elliott brought the no. 21 back down pit road to remove more tape. When he returned to the track, the temperatures started to come back down to normal levels. Bill was able to run the remainder of the race where he took the checkered flag in 35th.
Bill Elliott will return in the no. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion in New Hampshire for the Sylvania 300 on Sunday September, 14th.
* Photo credit to Dorsey Patrick