Elliott wins for first time in seven years

Monday, November 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) _ On a day when Jeff Gordon all but wrapped up his fourth Winston Cup championship, Bill Elliott won for the first time in seven years and gave Ray Evernham his first win as a team owner in the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday.

Elliott, whose last victory came at Darlington in September 1994, passed teammate Casey Atwood five laps from the end of the 267-lap race after stalking the rookie for several trips around the 1 1/2-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway.

``I was just staying with him and then I got under him and he got real loose in (turns) three and four and that's all it took,'' said Elliott, a winner for the 41st time in his career.

The victory was just as sweet for Evernham, who was the top crew chief in the sport before leaving Hendrick Motorsports late in 1999 for the difficult task of starting up his own team and guiding Dodge's return to NASCAR's top division after a 16-year absence.

An accident in the pits left four people injured, including a crewman for Ricky Rudd's team who was hospitalized in serious condition with head injuries after striking a concrete wall.

Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, driving one of his best races of the season, came on to pass Atwood for second on the last lap, but crossed the finish line 1.42-seconds _ about eight car-lengths _ behind the bright red No. 9 Dodge of Elliott.