Racing legend Bill Elliott will try to qualify Sunday for next weekend's Daytona 500. The Dawsonville native, a two-time winner of stock car racing's most prestigious event, will be driving the No. 97 Toyota Camry owned by veteran driver Joe Nemechek. Nemechek has put his self-owned Toyota in the field for the 500 each of the last two seasons, meaning Elliott will at least have a fast car in his bid to make the show.
Elliott will need to put his car into the field on speed or race his way in via the Gatorade Duels next Thursday to guarantee himself a spot in the 54th-annual Great American Race. Though his 1988 Sprint Cup title would allow him the opportunity to recieve a past champion's provisional, two-time champion Terry Labonte is first in line for the provisional, having recorded his most recent title in 1996. Labonte, racing for Frank Stoddard's FAS Lane Racing, would have been locked into the field prior to a deal that sent the 2011 owner points for the No. 32 Ford to Michael Waltrip Racing and Mark Martin.
Elliott has qualified for the last three Daytona 500s, in 2009 and '10 for the Wood Brothers and last season for Phoenix Racing. He missed the 2007 and 2008 races, two of only six DNQs in his storied career. Elliott won the 500 in 1985 and 1987, driving his legendary No. 9 Thunderbird wrenched by his brothers Ernie and Dan. He had previously been named to drive a No. 50 Walmart Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports in the July Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona.