Elliott looking to make the most of his opportunities


            Bill Elliott¿s window of opportunity is smaller this year than any of his past 25 seasons in motorsports. That¿s because Elliott will run a limited schedule in 2004 and will allow Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne to carry the flag for Evernham Motorsports.

            ¿I am coming into this year with a whole different attitude,¿ said Elliott, during a break Thursday in NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. ¿I¿m enjoying where I am. After the Bud Shootout, this is our next race. Texas is the only other race we know for sure, so we want to run well.¿

            Elliott is hoping for a good run in the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 to ensure more sponsorship, which would allow the team to run more races.

            ¿Hopefully, we can do a little sponsor manipulating here and do what we need to do,¿ Elliott said. ¿But we¿re just trying to get things sorted out right now.¿

            This week¿s test has been solid for all three Evernham drivers.

            ¿I think we are a lot ahead of where we were last year,¿ Elliott said. ¿Jeremy¿s team has come together very well, and even though Kasey has a big learning curve, it looks like that team is picking up right where we left off last year.¿



§         A total of 54 teams tested during the four-day NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. NASCAR Nextel Cup teams made up 34 of the testing teams, while 20 NASCAR Busch Series teams participated in the test. ¿I told Ray (Evernham) when he came in here this morning, the last couple of days I had never seen so many people test, especially this far away. It¿s pretty impressive.¿


§         Rusty Wallace was unofficially the fastest car in testing on Thursday, tearing off a lap in 31.55 seconds, 171.694 mph, while Las Vegas¿ Kyle Busch had the top Busch lap at 31.80 seconds, 169.811 mph. Busch¿s time is faster than the track record for Busch cars, but the time is unofficial.


§         Jamie McMurray looked a lot like Ricky Rudd at the test on Thursday. Because McMurray was testing both his Cup and Busch cars Wednesday, he left his driving uniform in his Cup hauler following testing on Wednesday. McMurray forgot his Cup hauler was leaving on Wednesday, so he arrived at the track Thursday without his uniform. Rudd loaned him a spare.