Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Had Solid First Half; Brush With Wreck Fated Finish in Bristol
Bristol, TN (August 23, 2008)-Bill Elliott in the no. 21 Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center Ford Fusion had a solid run in the top 10 for most of the first half of the Sharpie 500 until a slight involvement in a multi car wreck that required major adjustments and put the team mid-pack in the field where he finished 26th.
Bill took the green flag in the fifth position after a great qualifying run on Friday afternoon. Within first 25 laps of the race he stayed in the top 10. When Crew Chief David Hyder radioed to Bill that the car was as fast as leader Carl Edwards. Bill was scored in sixth. By lap 72, the no. 21 was putting cars a lap down and was in the eighth position. The first caution flag flew on lap 96, Bill was scored in the 10th position and he reported that the car was a little tight, but it worked its way out as he put more laps on the tires. The team called the no. 21 down pit road for four tires and fuel and no changes. Bill was happy with the car, however, the no. 21 lost two spots off of pit road and restarted the race 12th on lap 103. The next 100 laps of the 500 lap event ran mostly under the green flag.Hyder gave lap times and repeatedly noting that Bill was running faster than the leader. He moved up to the 11 spot when another yellow flag flew on lap 196. Bill didn’t want any changes made to the car so the 21 team put four fresh tires and fuel and send him back to the track in 11th.
The race restarted on lap 206, yet another caution flag ensued when a multi car wreck involving eight cars occurred on lap 216. Bill drove down low on the track to avoid the crashing race cars ahead. As he did, the right front and rear wheels hit another car. There was some damage but the team couldn’t tell if it needed immediate attention or could wait until the next opportunity to pit. NASCAR put out the red flag and the team asked the other drivers parked near Bill to assess the damage as he sat on the track. The team decided not to take the risk of having the rear fender rub on the tire and as soon as NASCAR lifted the red flag and opened pit road,they brought the no. 21 down pit lane to put on four tires and fix any obvious damage. This put Bill back in the 13th position as the race restarted on lap 222.
As soon as Bill took the green on the restart, he reported that the front end didn’t feel right. He was worried the hit to the front tire knocked the “toe” out. Meaning that the front right tire was no longer facing forward, it was pointed out and it effected the car's steering. Bill had a difficult time handling this condition and fell to the 19th position on lap 240. The team anxiously awaited the next caution so they could repair the issue, yet green flag racing continued until lap 280 when they used the opportunity to pit. At that point, the no. 21 fell one lap down to the leader. The 21 pit crew found that the toe was out three-quarters of an inch and was in need of repairing. They sent Bill back to the track and had him return to pit road the next time around for the repair so that he wouldn’t lose another lap. They were able to get the job done and sent him back for the restart on lap 325 in the 25th position. The next 75 laps would prove to be trying for the no. 21 as Bill worked to regain track position, yet he remained in the 26th position. On lap 400 another caution flew and the 21 team pit for four tires and fuel. As he left pit road, he received a penalty for speeding and had to restart at the tail end of the longest line. Already three laps down, Elliott remained in the 26th spot where he took the checkered flag.
Aside from the unfortunate circumstances, Bill was extremely happy with the team and the car that they provided for him. “The guys worked hard and gave me a great car this weekend," Elliott said. "It’s just unfortunate that we got involved in that wreck and had to make a major adjustment. I feel we had a top 10 car that drove so well that even my grandfather could have driven it.”
The Wood Brothers Racing no. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion will travel cross country to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California with driver Marcos Ambrose for the Pepsi 500 on Sunday, August 31st.