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Bill Elliott tries to break his Talladega record

NASCAR
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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Bill Elliott at Daytona this year
Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft NASCAR Ford Fusion, recorded the fastest lap ever in a stock car when he drove a Ford Thunderbird 212.089 miles per hour in a qualifying effort at Talladega Superspeedway in 1987. On Wednesday, driving a Hajek Motorsports E-85 powered Ford Mustang FR500C, Elliott will try to surpass that mark and establish a new closed course speed record for an E-85-powered car. Both Elliott and Brent Hajek discussed this week’s attempt.

BILL ELLIOTT – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET CALLED ABOUT DRIVING THE E-85 POWERED FORD MUSTANG? “It’s probably been about six months – actually, Bud Moore contacted me, because Bud was working with Brent, trying to put this deal together, so that’s kind of how things progressed from there.”

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD ABOUT IT? “I didn’t know what it was all about. I just kind of listened to what he had to say and then assess it from there. Kind of anything is a record, I mean you want to run as fast as you can, but for what they want to do, it’s a pretty neat concept. It ought to be fun to do, and we’ll see how it goes. I kind of had mixed emotions about it. First, I didn’t really know those guys; now that they’ve been to the shop this past week and they’ve had the car on the chassis dyno and it had run at Bonneville with Danny Thompson and all of the stuff that they’ve done. So I’m getting more comfortable with what they’re trying to do, and understand it more as we continue to have more dialogue.”

YOUR LAP OF 212.089 MPH AT TALLADEGA HAS STOOD AS A RECORD FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO HAVE YOUR NAME ATTACHED TO THAT MARK? “At the point in time, for us, it’s been a pretty nice thing. I think it just shows how far we were along at the point in time we did that. For us to run that fast in that era when nobody else had was pretty amazing. Of all the accomplishments we’ve done, that’s one of the ones that really stands out and continues to hold up through the test of time. I know that with NASCAR changing – now they run restrictor plates on the car to limit the horsepower, but still, at the point in time that we ran, that was a pretty amazing feat.”

HOW ARE PREPARATIONS GOING FOR THIS ATTEMPT WITH THE E-85 POWERED MUSTANG? THE E-85 POWERED MUSTANG HAS BEEN AT YOUR SHOP IN DAWSONVILLE, GEORGIA, SINCE LAST WEEK. “Everything’s going well. I think today they’re in the wind tunnel. They ended up leaving last night. Like I said, they had it on the chassis dyno for quite a while. They had a few little glitches they worked out, and then we put one of my seats in the car, then they went back through their wiring issues and re-did some stuff and, I think, re-did the computer stuff, and they had it back on the chassis dyno yesterday, and I guess it was in the wind tunnel this morning, and we’ll kind of go from there.”

HOW FAST DO YOU THINK THAT E-85 POWERED MUSTANG WILL GO? “I have no idea. I’ll get back to you on that one.”

ON RUNNING THIS WEEKEND IN THE ALL-STAR RACE. “Everything is pretty much set to go. We’ll have Motorcraft on the Wood Brothers Ford, and we’re looking forward to it. It will give us a good test for the 600 next week, and that’s what we really need. And, hopefully, we can go up there and do some good. For us, running a limited amount of races, it’s tough, it’s not impossible, but it’s just tough. For us, we need all the track time we can get. At first, they weren’t going to run this weekend, and then we all got to talking about it when we went to Texas and said, ‘Look, we really need to make this work out.’ And, with the help of some people – Ford, Motorcraft and the group they’ve got around them – really kind of brought it together, so we were able to work it out. It’s right there in their backyard, so it really makes it nice.”

AS A DRIVER, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE VOTED INTO THE MAIN EVENT BY THE FANS? “Well, I’d rather win the race – but, whatever happens, you get in it any way you can by default. It would be a great deal, but I know there are a lot of other good people that want to be in it also that also deserve to be in it, and we’ll see how things shake out.”

YOU’RE NOT RACING A FULL SCHEDULE THIS YEAR. HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED YOU? “It makes it tough because in this business it’s like practice makes perfect. When you sit out a few races, it’s hard to get back because you feel like those guys have really gained, and the way the Car of Today is, being so unique and is so hard to get a handle in this day and time, that’s what’s tough.”

“The Woods are trying awfully hard to get their program back on track. It’s just unfortunate the way the whole situation has gone with the economy and everything else, it’s just tough to put it all together. And, hopefully, we can get things turned around here and maybe we can do it this weekend. And then, especially with this E-85 deal going on, that’s been a plus because it’s gotten some extra press and some recognition. It’s kind of a unique deal, and I think that makes it pretty special, too.”

BRENT HAJEK – Owner, Hajek Motorsports—WHY BREAK THIS RECORD? “Well, Bill had this record and Ford has had this record, and just about every fast car at Talladega has been a Ford. We thought if anybody ought to break his own record, it ought to be Bill. Him and his boys were excited about it. It just seemed like the way to go. We’ve got a new generation Mustang, the E-85, and Bill’s the best driver we could think of, we couldn’t think of anybody more suited for that role.”

YOU RAN THE E-85 MUSTANG 252 MPH AT BONNEVILLE.  YOU’RE ACTUALLY THE FIRST TO BRING A CAR FROM BONNEVILLE TO TALLADEGA TO TRY TO GET BOTH SPEED RECORDS. “Right. Years ago, they took a NASCAR car from the track to Bonneville but nobody’s ever taken a car from Bonneville to Talladega. Nobody’s ever done it in racing history, and nobody’s ever done it the way we’re going to go at it.”

WHAT SPEED ARE YOU GUNNING FOR? “With buffers in the E-85 and it being a Mustang, you know, personally I would be tickled with 200 mph, it would just tickle me to death. There’s some off-tier numbers out there that have been thrown out, we’ll just have to wait and see. I don’t want to jinx the deal, that’s what I said at Bonneville. I was hoping for 200 and we went 252, so once again I’m hoping for 200 and I just hope everything goes smooth. We’re trying to get Bill set up for the car and if anybody can get it done, we know he can.”

YOU’VE GOT A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON WITH FORD RACING RIGHT NOW. YOU HAVE THE RECORD ATTEMPT AT TALLAGEGA, YOU HAD THE RECORD ATTEMPT AT BONNEVILLE AND YOU ALSO HAVE THE COBRA JET PROGRAM. “Yes, we do. We’re actively campaigning right now as we speak for Cobra Jet, doing the NHRA tour, racing some races and a few national events and those kinds of things. We’re very, very successful with that program and that’s been cool and we’ve got this FR500C, our Bonneville car, we’re trying to hopefully break the all-time NASCAR speed record with it and we’ve got a 2010 Mustang project coming up shortly.”

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