Will I have to take back what I said about my favorite driver in the retirement post? It's become obvious that Bill Elliott's plans to retire as a part time driver for Ray Evernham have gone by the wayside, as he has all-but killed any plans to race with them. It's disappointing, but short of sharing a ride, I don't see how that deal was going to work anyways. Still, I'm surprised they didn't just set up a Busch deal or something. The truth is that Evernham owes Elliott - Without a veteran driver to give his organization the expertise needed, let alone those first crucial wins, he wouldn't be where he is today.
Since things didn't work out that way, Elliott's been helping struggling teams and developping teams as a part time driver. It's a little disconcerting to see him in a chevy, but a chevy is better than nothing. He helped MB2 in the Daytona 500 earlier, and he was in the last two Nextel Cup races for Michael Waltrip's team, helping them prepare for their supposed breakout season with Toyota next year.
Obviously, I wasn't expecting Elliott to do well in these races. Racing with a new team is always rough, especially a part time one. But when the top car on your team is struggling to make the top-20, the half-assed deal isn't going to be faring so well. Elliott's acknowledged this in interviews, yet now is the time he let it be known he wouldn't be opposed to coming out of retirement for a full season "if the right deal came along."
Is Elliott just disatisfied with his legacy? He obviously doesn't need to prove anything with a comeback. He did that with the Dodge 9. Hell, the last fulltime race he participated in, he dominated.
Or perhaps he sees something about Waltrip's team or Toyota in general that he wants to be a part of it.
As a fan, I of course want to see him come back and give them hell. Just the amusing repercussions of him coming back at age 50 (and if successful) winning would totally shakeup the situation with the other recent retirees. It was his part time move at the end of 2003 that started a trend, maybe he'll spark a veteran resurgance. Or it could be one huge painful disaster. Guess it all depends on if the right deal comes along.
If he winds up with Team RedBull next year, it could give that Toyota team the credit it needs with old school fans to be accepted. Waltrip already has Jarret signed for that position on his team. Elliott would make the perfect "wiley veteran" to Brian Vicker's (relative) inexperience. The only problem I see with that is that even with Dodge, it took Elliott until the last race of his premiere season with them to get to victory lane. Joining Team Redbull would most certainly require a commitment of more than just a season, and unless he's been bored lately, the ex champ might not be for such a contract when he's been on the move to retirement.
One thing's for certain though. It would give me more of an excuse to drink more Redbull and vodkas.