Elliott hopes Dover luck reappears

June 04, 1994|By Lori Van Lonkhuyzen | Lori Van Lonkhuyzen,Sun Staff Writer

Dover Downs International Speedway has been a fairly welcome sight the past few years for NASCAR driver Bill Elliott.

The two-time Daytona 500 champion and winner of 39 Winston Cup races has won four times at Dover in his 10-year career.

At tomorrow's Budweiser 500 at Dover, Elliott would like to make it five. In fact, a win is almost a necessity.

Elliott, who threw out the first pitch Thursday at Camden Yards, has more than $13 million in career earnings but hasn't had a victory since Nov. 15, 1992. Last season was the first in which he didn't win since he began racing full time in 1983.

The disappointing turn his career has taken has been rough on him and his crew, but Elliott has tried to remain positive about this season, which is about halfway complete.

"Right now we just need to turn this thing around," Elliott said. "The crew is down from the standpoint that we haven't won in a while."

Misfortunes on the track, combined with rumors of a bad relationship with team owner Junior Johnson, have raised questions about what Elliott will do at the end of the season when his contract is up.

"I still haven't made a total decision," Elliott said. "I want to focus on this season regardless of whether or not I stay there [with Johnson]."

Despite his problems on the track, Elliott had little trouble reaching the plate with his fastball yesterday.

"I'm probably a Braves fan -- I watch them more than anything else," said Elliott, a lifelong Georgian. "I just haven't had the opportunity to follow [baseball] closely. It's hard to become what you would say is a true fan."

Elliott's most successful Winston Cup year came in 1985, when he won 11 races, including the Daytona 500. His second Daytona 500 victory came in 1987.

In 1992, after winning just one race in both 1990 and 1991, Elliott joined with Johnson and surged early with four straight wins in March.

However, the team cooled off, winning just one race the rest of the year, which would end up being Elliott's last victory.

"It's tough. Sometimes you go through periods where it's tough to get up," Elliott said. "I still enjoy it a lot."

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