Elledge Returns To APR

Sometimes, it’s not that much better on “the other side of the fence.”

Jimmy Elledge found that out recently after a short stint as crew chief for the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford, with driver Dale Jarrett. After approximately three months on the job, and limited success, Elledge was replaced by Todd Parrott – who formerly held that position – so things returned to the way they’ve been at RYR for the past few years.

Elledge, in turn, has now left Robert Yates Racing and returned to Andy Petree Racing, where he will once again become the crew chief of the No. 55 Chevy, with driver Bobby Hamilton, it was announced Wednesday.

Elledge began his duties immediately in preparation for Saturday’s Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

“Working at Andy Petree Racing was a great situation from day one, but sometimes the grass is greener on the other side,” Elledge said in the shop on his first day back. “I think there were a lot of things here that were really good. But there were a lot of things I questioned here, that by being away I was able to answer.
“The bottom line is you have to be happy at the end of the day. I feel wanted here. These guys are big supporters of me. When you feel wanted by the people around you, it makes you feel good.”

In a handful of races at RYR with Jarrett and the No. 88 team, Elledge managed only one top-10 finish. Last spring, he won his first race as a crew chief, with Hamilton, at Talladega Superspeedway. That was Andy Petree’s first victory as a Winston Cup Series team owner as well.

Hamilton was pleased upon hearing Elledge was coming back to APR, while praising the efforts of former crew chief Charley Pressley, who was released from his duties. Hamilton and Pressley had also worked together previously at Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

“Being a car owner myself I understand where Andy (Petree) is coming from,” Hamilton said. “But then again I had complete confidence in Charley and think he is a really smart crew chief. Charley and I are tight and I wish the best for him. But because of the relationship I have already established with Jimmy, I know I’m in good hands.

“The bottom line here is that we want better results than what we’ve had so far. It’s not like we’ve found a cure to our every problem, but we’re just taking some steps to help it out. This time last year, we were running up front all the time. But then again, last year we had two teams and more information to go off of. Andy is just trying to bring back the stability in our team and get our program rolling again.”

Elledge said he had talked to Ray Evernham about the crew chief job for Evernham’s No. 7 Dodge team, with driver Casey Atwood, and to Hendrick Motorsports about the crew chief position for the No. 25 team after the departure of Tony Furr.

Elledge said Hendrick Motorsports said they’re sticking with Ken Howes as the crew chief for Jerry Nadeau’s team, while Evernham-Ultra Motorsports has hired Furr to be the crew chief of the No. 7 Sirius Dodge for this weekend's race at Richmond. Furr’s deal is strictly for one race, at this time, a team spokesperson said Wednesday.

Elledge has recently been “hanging around” the No. 55 team hauler, and, with Pressley’s dismissal, everything fell into place for Elledge’s return.

Hamilton is currently 29th in the Winston Cup points standings with only one top-10 finish this season in 10 starts. Elledge said he hopes to come in and help turn things around as soon as he can.

“The first thing we have to do is look at the problems and try to identify what’s wrong,” Elledge said. “Some things are the same as when I left. The flat track program still looks like it’s off. I think I learned some stuff at Yates that might help. I think the biggest thing is that my relationship with Bobby is good, and it always has been. Anytime you have two people go through the kind of year we had last year, it shows that we have what it takes to go through the tough times and make them better.

“I guess I kind of hate that I left it (back in December). Hopefully we can gel all of the chemistry we had back together and get the program back to where it was when I left. Since there’s only one full-time team at APR now, there’s probably more support for this team than there was before. There are more resources to draw from, because there’s more people concentrated on this one car.

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