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NASCAR Winston Cup CMT 300 Preview: #94, Bill Elliot

12 September 1997

 #94 Bill Elliott, McDonald's Ford Thunderbird 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 CMT 300 Advance
 New Hampshire International Speedway

LOUDON, NH - At the beginning of the 1997 season, Bill Elliott expressed he 
wanted to return to his old form and be one of the top competitors week in 
and week out. With eight races remaining, he has collected four top-five
finishes and 11 top 10s, along with leading 442 laps, surpassing his combined
total of laps led from 1994 to 1996 by 149. 

"I'd say that right now, we're definitely knocking on the door to a win," said
Elliott driver and owner of the McDonald's Ford Thunderbird. "But we just
can't seem to get it open. We've been so good this year. To understand the
kind of year we had last year and for us to be doing this well, it feels

"All the pieces seem to be coming together. I just try to do the best with
what I'm given each week. Some bizarre things have happened to us that can't 
be explained. But this is a sport where one week you can be sitting on top of 
it all and the next you're fighting to make the show. It will humble you 

Elliott keeps a steady eye on his position in the points. He left
the Pepsi 400 in Daytona on July 5, 13th in the point standings with a total
of 1,748. In just two months he has moved into eighth place. Compared to his
1996 ranking at the time, 34th, he gained 26 positions. Elliott and Ricky Rudd
are the only two owner and driver combinations in the top 10. "In order to be
competitive, you've got to be consistent," said Elliott, who has finished in
the top 10 in points every year since 1983 except 1991 (finished 11th) and
1996 (finished 30th). "That rule applies to almost any sport. Once you get the
right combination, which I feel we've got right now, you'll go far. I want to
be there in points and to do so, you've got to have a consistent flow in each
race. At the end of the season, if you finish in the top in points, that says
something for your team." 

A rejuvenated Elliott certainly has had quite a year, accomplishing everything
but a trip to victory lane. With a second place finish at Michigan in June,
winning his 49th career pole position last weekend at Richmond and collecting
five straight top-10 finishes, Elliott says not to count him out. 

"I think I drive better now than I did years ago," Elliott said. "When I get
into that car, I put it all on the line, whether it's in qualifying or in the
race. All my life, this is what I've wanted to do. No, I don't think my time
has come to hang up my helmet. I can't tell you how bad I want to win. It can
be disappointing to run well, even lead races and not capitalize on it. But
we're close, I can guarantee you that much."

By DMF Communications