In 1985, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville was just that.
Bill Elliott enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR history that year, winning 11 races, 11 poles and the inaugural Winston Million, which has since been replaced by the No Bull 5 program. Although he finished second to Darrell Waltrip in the points race, Elliott clearly earned superstar status and was ready to claim a crown of his own.
He accomplished the feat in 1988 after winning six races – the second season in a row he had logged that many checkers. And with 29 victories under his belt, the 33-year-old was poised to rack up even more hardware down the road.
However, Elliott is still waiting for his second title. In fact, he has been waiting seven years for his 41st checkered flag, winning his 40th event at Darlington in 1994. This season Elliott is the point man for the Dodge entry in Winston Cup, and his struggle – as well as that of the Intrepid – continues.
“It’s been disappointing in some ways,” said Elliott, who drives the Dodge Dealers Intrepid for Ray Evernham. “We just can’t seem to hit on anything in the right direction. We haven’t been able to do what we need to do, so the Dodge teams still haven’t gotten a win.”
Sterling Marlin, also driving a Dodge, picked up a victory in a Daytona qualifier during Speed Weeks, but no Intrepid pilot has been able to cross the stripe first in a points event. Even when the cars are running good, bad “racing luck” seems to come into play.
“I don’t really think there’s one thing wrong – I think it’s a combination of a lot of little things,” Elliott said. “I think our motor combinations need to be a little better, and we need to work on our aero package. We’re just going to have to put our heads together and see if we can come up with something.”
Evernham, who owns the two-car team consisting of Elliott and Casey Atwood, is in charge of the entire Dodge effort in Winston Cup racing. Elliott said it could be a case of Evernham being spread too thin.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that what he has to do is more than one person can do,” Elliott said. “Ray’s got his hands full, and in helping the whole Dodge program get kicked off, that’s asking a lot. I don’t think people realize how much money is involved and how much it costs to deal with all the rule changes.”
Despite Elliott’s drought, he has been voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver 10 years in a row and has earned the honor 15 of the last 17 seasons. Although he enjoys the accolades from the fans, he longs for a day when he can give them something to cheer about once more.