Bill Elliott

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For the American B-Western actor, see Wild Bill Elliott.
Bill Elliott
Bill Elliott.jpg
Elliott administers the Oath of Enlistment to a U.S. Navy sailor
Born (1955-10-08) October 8, 1955 (age 58)
Dawsonville, Georgia, United States
Achievements 1988 Winston Cup Series Champion
1985, 1987 Daytona 500 Winner
2002 Brickyard 400 Winner
1985, 1988, 1994 Southern 500 Winner
1985 Winston 500 Winner
1986 The Winston Winner
Awards NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)
1984-1988, 1991-2000, 2002 Winston Cup Series Most Popular Driver (16 times)
2007 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Inductee
2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
828 race(s) run over 37 year(s)
2012 position 49th
Best champ.
finish
1st (1988)
First race 1976 Carolina 500 (Rockingham)
Last race 2012 Coke Zero 400 (Daytona)
First win 1983 Winston Western 500 (Riverside)
Last win 2003 Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 (Rockingham)
Wins Top tens Poles
44 320 55
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
43 race(s) run over 12 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
29th (1993)
First race 1983 Mello Yello 300 (Charlotte)
Last race 2005 Sam's Town 250 (Memphis)
First win 1993 Fay's 150 (Watkins Glen)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 16 2
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
2 race(s) run over 2 year(s)
Best champ.
finish
80th (1996)
First race 1996 Carquest 420K (Las Vegas)
Last race 1997 Carquest 420K (Las Vegas)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0
Statistics current as of December 18, 2012.
Elliott's car that set the record for the fastest recorded time in a stock car - 212.809 miles per hour (342.483 km/h) at Talladega Superspeedway

William Clyde "Bill" Elliott (born October 8, 1955), also known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville or Million Dollar Bill, is an inactive driver and former champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Elliott was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on August 15, 2007.[1] He won the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship and has garnered 44 wins in that series. He had two Daytona 500 victories, and a record four consecutive wins at Michigan International Speedway during 1985-86. He holds the track record for fastest qualifying speed at Talladega at 212.809 mph and Daytona International Speedway at 210.364 mph, both of which were set in 1987. The mark at Talladega is the fastest speed for any NASCAR event ever.

Elliott won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award 16 times,[2] a record. He withdrew his name from the ballot for that award after winning it in 2002. In 2005, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue declared October 8 as Bill Elliott Day in the state of Georgia.[citation needed] Elliott has also been honored by the state legislature, having a stretch of road in his native Dawsonville renamed Elliott Family Parkway. Elliott was born in Dawsonville, Georgia.

Personal[edit]

Bill Elliott grew up near Dawsonville, Georgia. According to his autobiography, many generations of Elliotts grew up there. William Clyde Elliott was named after two relatives and is the youngest of three boys. Bill's father George created a lumber company and loved racing. He later created a speed shop where Bill's brothers Ernie (born 1947) and Dan (born 1951) both worked. His father was a Ford man and later created a Ford dealership as there were none around.

Bill Elliott has two daughters, Starr and Brittany, and a son, Chase. Chase Elliott now has a burgeoning racing career with JR Motorsports,[3] while Brittany Elliott joined the Air Force in Security Forces.

NASCAR career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Driving a car owned by his father, George Elliott,[4] Elliott made his first Winston Cup Series start at Rockingham in 1976. He qualified 34th in a field of 36 cars; Elliott only lasted 32 laps that day before the oil pump failed in his Ford Torino, earning him $640. Elliott toiled for five years in the Winston Cup Series without corporate sponsorship, and along the way showed flashes that he could compete with the established veterans of the sport. In mid-1977, Elliott bought a Mercury Montego from Bobby Allison after his split from Penske Racing to replace the inferior Torino, and the move paid off. He soon earned his first top-10 finish in the Southern 500 (10th), and his first top-5 finish 2 years later in the same race, finishing second to race winner (and Elliott's boyhood hero) David Pearson.

With Melling Racing[edit]

In the fall of 1980, Elliott gained his first major sponsor in the form of $500 from Harry Melling of Melling Racing in the 1980 National 500 at Charlotte. Melling would extend his contract and gave the team enough sponsorship to run a 12 race schedule in 1981. After a 1981 season that consisted of one top-5 and seven top-10 finishes in 13 races, including the team's first pole in the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500, Melling bought the team from Elliott's father George on December 1, 1981. In 1983 Elliott earned his first Winston Cup win in the Winston Western 500 at Riverside in the final race of the 1983 season. Elliott also finished second four times including the Daytona 500 on his way to a third place finish in the championship standings that season. He gained full sponsorship from Coors in 1984 to the tune of $400,000 and won three races: the Michigan 400, the Miller High Life 500, and the American 500; four poles and again finished third in the championship standings.

Elliott, after he won the Budweiser 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway in 1985

In 1985, Elliott earned 11 wins and 11 poles out of 28 races and also won the first Winston Million[5] in the Southern 500 at Darlington. This earned him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill", and "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville." He won the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega (at the time ran at a record average speed 186.288 MPH) and the Southern 500 to earn the Winston Million. The only major of the four he did not win was the Coca-Cola 600 (a driver needed only to win a "small slam" of the four majors to win the bonus; Elliott as of 2013 has yet to finish a Career Grand Slam). This led to him becoming the second NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Cale Yarborough being the first after his 1977 Daytona 500 victory. Elliott finished second in the championship standings by 101 points, losing the Winston Cup Championship to Darrell Waltrip after a string of poor finishes in the last quarter of the season.

Elliott also set an unprecedented NASCAR record of winning five consecutive pole qualifying sessions in that season; the June Pocono race, the Firecracker 400, the July races in Pocono and Talladega, and the August Michigan race. That does not include the June Michigan race where qualifying was rained out, and the July Pocono race pole was where he started second, but further investigation led NASCAR to throw out the winning pole time for illegal fuel additives, retroactively awarding Elliott the pole award, money, and credit towards the season-long award for most poles won.[6]

In 1986, Elliott won both Michigan races, four poles and finished fourth in the championship standings. He also won The Winston II, held at Atlanta, the only year the race was run somewhere other than Charlotte. He won six races in 1987, including his second Daytona 500, and the Talladega 500, seven poles, and finished second in the final point standings. In The Winston he tangled with Dale Earnhardt in what has become known as "the Pass In The Grass". However, Elliott's most lasting accomplishment that year was setting two NASCAR qualifying records, which stand to this day. At Daytona, he set the NASCAR speed record with an average speed of 210.364 miles per hour (338.548 km/h). He broke his own record at Talladega with an average speed of 212.809 miles per hour (342.483 km/h); the previous record he set in 1986 was 209.383 miles per hour (336.969 km/h).[7] In both races, he used a Ford Thunderbird which contained an engine built by his brother Ernie. However, at Talladega, Bobby Allison was spun and went airborne into the catch fence, tearing a large section away and injuring several fans. After this incident, NASCAR mandated the use of restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega. As a result, Elliott's speed records will likely never be broken. In 1988 Elliott won another six races, including the Southern 500 and the Pepsi Firecracker 400, six poles, and his only Winston Cup Championship.

Following his championship season, Elliott broke his wrist in a crash during testing at Daytona and required relief by Jody Ridley during several races in the first part of the 1989 season. Elliott won two poles and three races and finished sixth in the championship standings. In 1990, Elliott won one race and two poles and finished fourth in the championship standings. In the 1990 race at Atlanta, Elliott's rear tire changer Mike Rich was killed when Ricky Rudd lost control of his car, spun, and slammed the crew member between his car and Elliott's. This resulted in NASCAR restricting the speed of cars on pit road. The year 1991 saw Elliott's sponsorship change to Coors Light beer and the familiar red on the car was replaced with blue. Elliott won once in the Pepsi 400 and won two poles and finished eleventh in the championship standings during his last season with the Mellings.

With Junior Johnson[edit]

1994 car

Elliott left Melling to join Junior Johnson and Associates in 1992, replacing Geoffrey Bodine in the #11 Budweiser Ford. In 1992, Elliott won five races (including four in a row) and three poles, but much like his 1985 season he finished a disappointing second in the championship standings after squandering a large lead in the standings with a late season string of poor finishes. He did win the season finale at his home track in Atlanta, but lost the championship by 10 points to Alan Kulwicki, who finished in second place and had led the most laps by one over Elliott. Had Kulwicki not led the most laps, Elliott would have finished tied with him for the lead and would have been awarded the title on a tiebreaker due to him having more wins (as Elliott had won three more times than Kulwicki).[8]

Elliott went winless in 1993 and finished eighth in the standings. He scored just one win the following season in the 1994 Southern 500 while finishing 10th in the championship standings. After his Darlington victory, Elliott announced he would be starting his own team with sponsorship from McDonald's in 1995.

As an independent driver-team owner[edit]

1997 racecar

After leaving Johnson's team, Elliott fielded his own Winston Cup race team from 1995 to 2000. He used the No. 94 in honor of his nephew, Casey Elliott, who was battling cancer at the time he formed the team and would die in 1996. Elliott failed to win a race during this time, though he did manage two top ten finishes in the championship standings, with eighth place finishes in both 1995 and 1997. In 1996, Elliott suffered a broken hip during an accident at Talladega and missed seven races that season.

The team also fielded entries in the Busch Series and Truck Series.

Evernham Motorsports[edit]

In 2000, Elliott sold his team to Ray Evernham and began driving the #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid in the following year. The team found success in his first race in the #9 Dodge, as Elliott won the pole for the 2001 Daytona 500 and finished in the top 5, bringing home a 5th place finish, though the race will forever be remembered for the death of fan favorite Dale Earnhardt. Bill finished his first season with Ray Evernham Racing with two poles, five top 5 and nine top 10 finishes, and a win at the Pennzoil Freedom 400 at Homestead from the pole. This was his first win in over seven years. He finished 15th in the final standings. In 2002 he won four poles and went to victory lane twice. His wins included the Pennsylvania 500, and one week later one of the most dominant victories in the history of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.[9] He finished 13th in the final standings. His last win, in what became his final full-time season, came in 2003 at Rockingham. A week later Elliott came within a lap of winning his final race as a full-time driver (he would have been the only retiring driver to do so) in the 2003 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Elliott led 189 of 267 laps and was on his way to victory, but a cut tire on the final lap gave the win to Bobby Labonte (his last win to date). He still finished the race and maintained his ninth-place position in the final points standings, his best finish since an eight-place finish in the 1997 standings. A few weeks later, Elliott announced that he was relinquishing the #9 car to Kasey Kahne and switching to a part-time schedule driving R&D cars for Evernham.

Semi-retirement years[edit]

In 2004, Elliott drove the #91 Dodge Intrepid for Evernham in three events (along with the Budweiser Shootout) and also drove the #98 Dodge Intrepid in one other event because of sponsorship issues between Coca-Cola (Elliott's sponsor) and Pepsi (Evernham's sponsor). Elliott was listed as the owner of the #98 car, but Evernham leased the car to him. Although he only made six starts during his first part-time season, he still managed to have some success which included a ninth-place finish at Indianapolis and second and third-place qualifying efforts at Texas and California respectively.

In 2005, Elliott continued his part-time driving duties which included driving the #39 Coors Dodge Charger(in a paint scheme reminiscent of his 1987 Coors Light Ford) for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Budweiser Shootout and the #91 Evernham Dodge in several events. Although he made three more starts than the previous season, he did not have the same amount of success. He managed to get an eleventh-place finish and a tenth-place qualifying effort at Michigan, along with a ninth-place qualifying effort at Texas. He also competed in select NASCAR Busch Series events for Rusty Wallace and also drove the #6 Unilever Dodge Charger in the Busch Series for Evernham at Memphis, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

For the 2006 season, the 2005 owners' points for the #91 team went to the new #10 Evernham team and driver Scott Riggs and the 91 team was discontinuted. On January 4, 2006, Elliott announced that he would pilot the #36 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS for MB2 Motorsports in the 2006 Daytona Speedweeks events. This included the Budweiser Shootout, the Gatorade Duel, and the Daytona 500, which Elliott had not competed in since 2003. On March 17, 2006, it was announced that Elliott would drive the #00 Burger King Chevrolet for Michael Waltrip Racing in five NEXTEL Cup events which included Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, California, and Homestead. On August 8, 2006, Evernham Motorsports announced that Elliott would return to the organization for the race at Watkins Glen driving the #19 Dodge previously driven by Jeremy Mayfield. The team fell out of the top-35 in owners' points after Indianapolis, leading to the firing of Mayfield, and Evernham assumed that Elliott would guarantee a starting spot in the field by being a past champion. However, since the driver switch was made past the entry deadline, NASCAR said that Elliott was not eligible for the past champions provisional. For the race at Kansas, Elliott teamed up with R&J Racing to drive the #37 Dodge. Elliott finished a season-high 16th at the Banquet 400 at Kansas, but did not qualify for the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte two weeks later. Elliott was scheduled to be the Team Red Bull entry at Atlanta and Texas, but A. J. Allmendinger drove the car instead (though he did not qualify for either race). Elliott instead drove the #37 Dodge at Atlanta, marking the 30th Anniversary of Elliott driving at his hometown track.

Elliott attempted to qualify for the 2007 Daytona 500, but failed to make the race in the #37.[10][11]

Later that season, Elliott signed to drive the #21 for Wood Brothers Racing in 2007,[11] in part due to his championship provisional, which guaranteed starting the race.[12] Since fellow champion Dale Jarrett had used all of his guaranteed starts in his Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, Elliott was the only champion eligible for the provisional not guaranteed a spot by being in the top 35 in owner's points. His first race for the team was the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte, which he qualified without needing one of his six provisionals.[12] He led the race at one point until he was involved in a wreck around lap 200. At Michigan, Elliott gave the team a much needed 11th place finish, and was kept in the car until the fall Richmond race. The car then fell out of the top 35 again but at Bristol got back into top 35 in points. Ken Schrader returned to the #21 replacing Elliott at a testing session at Talladega Superspeedway due to the team being back in the top 35 in owners points. He returned for the final four races after the 21 fell out of the top-35 once again.

On September 23, 2007, in an interview with Charlotte Observer Len Wood the co- owner of the #21 said in 2008 Elliott would have his own sponsor and share ride with Jon Wood and Marcos Ambrose.[13][14] Bill Elliott returned to the #21 to try to get the car back into the Top 35 points at Lowes Motor Speedway.[15]

2008 Cup car at Daytona

Elliott has qualified for ten races this season, with a best finish of 20th in the Sunoco Presents: The American Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. At Daytona Elliott announced that 2008 will be his final season as a Sprint Cup driver. But at Kansas in an interview on NASCAR Raceday, Elliot was asked about him racing, and said "We will be at Lowe's, and do a few more races. Then we will see how things go." Bill in 2008, best starts were 5th at Bristol and 7th at Kansas. His best finish was 12th at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In 2009, Elliott ran 12 races in the #21 Motorcraft Ford for the Wood Brothers, including the Daytona 500.[16] His best finish in 2009 was 15th place at Lowe's Motor Speedway.[16]

On Memorial Day May 25, 2009, Elliott became the 7th member of the "800 club", with his 800th career Sprint Cup start at Lowes Motor Speedway.[17][18]

Elliott ran for the Wood Brothers in 2010. He also drove at Talladega for Latitude 43 Motorsports.

In 2011, Elliott did not return to Wood Brothers Racing, but ran 4 races for Phoenix Racing in the #09 Chevy. Bill stepped out of the ride to assist his son Chase Elliott in the K&N Pro Series East. Landon Cassill would take over the car for the fifth race of the season, which was eventually renumbered to #51. Elliott was entered as the driver of the No. 46 Red Line Oil Chevrolet for Whitney Motorsports at Talladega but J.J. Yeley would finish the race.

For the 2012 season, Elliott joined Joe Nemechek at NEMCO Motorsports to drive the No. 97 Toyota in the 2012 Daytona 500,[19] but failed to qualify for the race.[20]

Elliott has signed to drive for Turner Motorsports in the July race at Daytona International Speedway, in the No. 50 Chevrolet, in which he qualified 5th.[21]

On May 10, 2013, the Sporting News reported to Elliott saying that he wasn't retired but "isn't itching" to get back in a racecar.[22]

In 2014, Elliott tested a Nationwide car at Daytona with JR Motorsports along with his son Chase, and finished the January 11 practice second fastest behind son Chase with a speed of 197.974 mph (318.608 km/h).[23] Chase currently drives JR Motorsports' NAPA Chevy Camaro, using his dad's famed number 9.

On May 21, 2014, Elliott was announced as an inductee into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold - Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics - Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

Busch Series[edit]

Craftsman Truck Series[edit]

* Season in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

Daytona 500 results[edit]

Year Manufacturer Start Finish Team
1978 Mercury 9 8 Elliott
1980 Mercury 24 12 Elliott
1981 Ford 16 6 Elliott
1982 Ford 20 5 Melling
1983 Ford 17 2 Melling
1984 Ford 3 5 Melling
1985 Ford 1 1 Melling
1986 Ford 1 13 Melling
1987 Ford 1 1 Melling
1988 Ford 21 12 Melling
1989 Ford 13 35* Melling
1990 Ford 4 3 Melling
1991 Ford 15 28 Melling
1992 Ford 2 27 Johnson
1993 Ford 5 39 Johnson
1994 Ford 8 9 Johnson
1995 Ford 10 23 Elliott
1996 Ford 21 8 Elliott
1997 Ford 8 4 Elliott
1998 Ford 19 10 Elliott
1999 Ford 37 27 Elliott
2000 Ford 3 3 Elliott
2001 Dodge 1 5 Evernham
2002 Dodge 29 11 Evernham
2003 Dodge 14 32 Evernham
2006 Chevrolet 33 19 Ginn
2009 Ford 40 27 Wood
2010 Ford 40 23 Wood
2011 Chevrolet 29 12 Phoenix
2012 Toyota DNQ NEMCO
  • Jody Ridley relieved Elliott under an early caution flag. Elliott suffered injuries in a crash during his Gatorade 125 on Thursday.

NASCAR video games[edit]

In 1990, Konami released the first officially-licensed NASCAR game, Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge for MS-DOS. The game was released for the NES and Amiga in 1991, and Bill Elliott's NASCAR Fast Tracks was released for the Game Boy at the same time.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rathmann, Elliott lead way". The Indianapolis Star. February 20, 2007. 
  2. ^ http://billelliott.com/about/accomplishments.html
  3. ^ Ryan, Nate (January 6, 2014). "NAPA will back Chase Elliott at JR Motorsports". USA Today. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ Reusse, Patrick (February 17, 2001). "Elliott content doing business in a Dodge". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. p. C1. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  5. ^ "Bill Elliott". The Crittenden Automotive Library. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007. 
  6. ^ Jayski's notes on Pole Winners.
  7. ^ Sun-Sentinel wire services. Sun Sentinel. Fort Lauderdale. May 2, 1986. pg. 2.C
  8. ^ "Alan Kulwicki". NASCAR.com. April 4, 2003. Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  9. ^ "Dominance underscores winning performance". Elizabethan Star Online Edition. 
  10. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/26/sports/othersports/26nascar.html?scp=19&sq=%22bill+elliott%22&st=nyt - "Elliott drove the No. 37 Dodge in the preseason Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in February but failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 because another driver, Dale Jarrett, had priority in using an exemption and he took the final guaranteed spot."
  11. ^ a b http://racing-reference.info/drivdet?id=elliobi01&yr=2007&series=W
  12. ^ a b Bernstein, Viv (May 26, 2007). "In Nascar, Two Old Hands Reach Out for Some Help". The New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Jayski #21 Team News
  15. ^ NASCAR: Elliott: I'm done with top series after 2008 | Atlanta Journal Constitution
  16. ^ a b http://racing-reference.info/drivdet?id=elliobi01&yr=2009&series=W
  17. ^ http://www.wsbtv.com/news/19562239/detail.html
  18. ^ http://www.nascar.com/2009/news/features/05/21/numbers.cup.charlotte.belliott/index.html
  19. ^ "Bill Elliott To Drive No. 97 Toyota In Daytona 500". SPEED Channel. Fox Sports. February 15, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  20. ^ "Matt Kenseth Wins 2nd Daytona Qualifying Race, Bill Elliott Fails To Qualify For 500". WMGT-DT. Macon, Georgia. February 23, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  21. ^ Vivlamore, Chris (January 26, 2012). "Elliott to drive one more race". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  22. ^ Pockrass, Bob (May 10, 2013). "Bill Elliott not racing, but not officially retired yet". Sporting News. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  23. ^ Bruce, Kenny (January 11, 2014). "Chase Elliott leads day one testing with father in tow". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dale Earnhardt
NASCAR Winston Cup Champion
1988
Succeeded by
Rusty Wallace
Achievements
Preceded by
Darrell Waltrip
The Winston Winner
1986
Succeeded by
Dale Earnhardt
Preceded by
Cale Yarborough
Geoff Bodine
Daytona 500 Winner
1985
1987
Succeeded by
Geoff Bodine
Bobby Allison