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2007 Driver Review: Bill Elliott

Bill Elliott
2007 Ride – No. 21 Little Debbie/Air Force Ford
2007 Owner – Wood Brothers
2007 Crew Chief – Ernie Cope/Michael McSwain/Gene Nead

Stats: 20 races, zero wins, zero top fives, zero top 10s, 42nd in points.

High Point: In a season where a team didn’t score a single top-10 finish, it is extremely difficult to find a high point. Elliott’s best run of the year was an 11th-place finish in the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan. Elliott didn’t lead any laps, and finished a full lap behind the leader, but this race was, by far, the brightest spot in a pretty dismal season.

Low Point: In a season filled with subpar performances, Elliott’s first race with the Wood Brothers kicked off his return to NASCAR in very poor fashion. Elliott was taken out in a crash after just 218 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Elliott did lead a lap, but finished 38th for his lowest finish of the season.

Summary: The Wood Brothers sought the services of Elliott after they fell out of the Top 35 in owner points. With Ken Schrader struggling to qualifying for races, the team was virtually ensured a starting position through Elliott’s past champion’s provisional. Fortunately, Elliott is a very good qualifier and made most races on speed. Unfortunately, that qualifying success never transferred into the race. Wih just one finish higher than 18th and almost as many finishes lower than 30th than above, Elliott’s season could not be considered a success on any front. Elliott only led a total of five laps all season long, finishing on the lead lap in just four of 20 events.

2008 Outlook: The Wood Brothers are one of the oldest organizations competing in NASCAR, but they are still a small operation compared to the megateams that dominate the sport today. It is a continuous struggle for them to stay in the Top 35, and 2008 doesn’t look like it will be any brighter. Longtime crew chief Michael McSwain is most likely not going to be with the organization next year, and the team still has the pressure of qualifying for at least the first five races of next season. Don’t expect Elliott to be much more of a factor in races for 2008 – if he even stays with the Wood Brothers. Currently, only Marcos Ambrose has been announced as a driver of the No. 21 on a part-time basis next season.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C-
2007 Grade: C- (only because Elliott qualified on speed for so many races)

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