Bill Elliott has accomplished a lot in his NASCAR career, including 44 Sprint Cup wins, 55 poles, the 1988 championship and 16 Most Popular Driver awards.
But he’ll be doing something new in 2011. For the first time in his career, he’ll start the season as a Chevrolet driver. He has teamed up with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing to run the No. 09 Chevrolet in a minimum of 18 races this season.
The new combo will start the season at Daytona, where Elliott has four Sprint Cup wins including two in the Daytona 500 and Finch has finishes of third, fourth, ninth, 10th and 12th in the Great American Race. Phoenix Racing team also has a Cup victory at Daytona’s sister track, Talladega Superspeedway, in 2009 with Brad Keselowski driving.
“It’s big for us and big for Chevrolet to get Bill Elliott,” Finch said. “It’s the first time in his career that he’s committed to race a Chevrolet.”
Finch also said he was confident that even at age 55 Elliott, whose previous Cup wins have come in Fords and Dodges, can get the job done in his Chevrolets.
“With the right equipment, he’s ready,” Finch said. “He was just a couple of hundredths of a second off the pole at Homestead last year.”
Nick Harris will serve as crew chief on the No. 09 Impala, and the team will use equipment and engines from Hendrick Motorsports.
Bill Elliott said he’s excited to be moving to Phoenix Racing and to the Chevrolet camp.
“I think this will be a really good deal,” he said. “James has really good race cars, and there’s no doubt about the Hendrick equipment. After all, look at all the championships they’ve won.”
Elliott, who will climb in the No. 09 for the first time on Thursday during testing at Daytona International Speedway, said he’s pleased to have the opportunity to drive proven equipment at this stage of his career. He plans to make the most of it.
“This may well be my last really good chance as a driver,” he said. “I’m going to give it my best shot. I feel like I’m still in good shape, and I thought we ran pretty good last year.”
Finch said he hopes to run the full Sprint Cup schedule with the No. 09, and he plans to run a limited Nationwide Series schedule, focusing on the restrictor-plate tracks.
“I’m going to concentrate on the Cup side,” Finch said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
Credit: BillElliott.com PR