Elliott Is Ready Again After Missing Million
His momentum temporarily slowed by an unexpected low level finish in last month’s World 600 at Charlotte, Bill Elliott is geared to pick up speed today and win his sixth NASCAR race of the year in the $384,470 Van Scoy 500 at Pocono International Raceway.
Elliott, winner of 5 of 12 Grand National races run to date, missed a shot at the million dollar Winston bonus when he completed only 383 of 400 laps and finished 18th at Charlotte on May 26 after being on the lead for 40 laps.
He has a final shot at the jackpot on Sept. 1 in the Southern 500 at Darlington. The bonus goes to the driver winning three of four designated races. Elliott has already won the Daytona and Talladega 500s, so needs a Darlington victory to complete a seven-figure earning season.
Elliott’s other victories this year have been at Atlanta, Darlington and Dover.
“To accomplish the things we have so far this season is unreal,” says Elliott. “To be this close to winning a million dollars is unbelievable. One more win ...
“Sure, that was our goal last winter. And because of the Winston Million deal, we worked harder over the winter than we thought possible. And it has paid off.”
It took Elliott 158 races to earn his first $2 million. He has $526,043 in earnings this year, won $660,226 last year, $479,965 in 1983 and $226,780 in 1982.
This year’s Pocono race has a new format. The opening round of qualifying on Friday locked in only the pole-sitter. The remainder of the drivers could either stand on their time, or re-qualify Saturday.
“We believe the format provides spectators with a super show,” said the track chief executive officer Dr. Joseph R. Mattioli when the proposal was finalized. “With the inside pole position up for grabs on Friday and the outside position (with special cash bonus) available Saturday many top drivers were required to make qualifying attempts on both days.
Going into the race on the 2- 1/2 mile tri-oval, Elliott trailed defending NASCAR champion Terry Labonte by 49 points. Labonte won the Riverside, Calif., 400 on June 2.
Elliott’s Ford Thunderbird has been so dominant on superspeedways this year that NASCAR instituted a rule to create parity among cars. The rule raised Ford bodies one-half inch and permitted General Motors cars to be lowered by the same amount, thus equlizing heights at 50 1/2 inches.
Elliott’s last two efforts in this first of two NASCAR races at Pocono were a fourth place finish last year and sixth place in 1983. Of the 400 laps he completed in the two races, Elliott led the field for only 18.
Pocono has always been kind to 1983 champion Bobby Allison. He had one of the finest victory strings at the track with three straight victories, two in 1982 and another the following year. Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, a trio with 12 Grand National titles among them, each won Pocono twice.