NASCAR's version of musical chairs continued Friday, when Wood Brothers Racing named David Gilliland to replace ailing Bill Elliott in the #21 Ford for Sunday's Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
According to a report by Rick Minter of Racintoday.com
, Elliott cracked three ribs in a dirt-bike accident and opted not to race on Sunday. News of Elliott's accident comes one day after Carl Edwards revealed he had fractured his right foot playing frisbee. The broken bone, however, won't prevent Edwards from competing Sunday.
"It's just a freak deal," Elliott told Minter of the dirt-bike accident. "I just decided that those boys (the Wood Brothers team) had worked so hard on the car it wouldn't be fair for me to have a problem and mess them up."
Gilliland had expected to sit out the race, after TRG Motorsports owner Kevin Buckler opted to go with former Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte, a six time winner at Atlanta. Labonte, in turn, lost his full-time seat in the #96 Hall of Fame/Yates Racing for lack of sponsorship.
Labonte will compete in five of the final 12 races in the #96 Ford and the remaining seven in TRG's #71 Chevrolet. Erik Darnell will drive the #96 Ford in the seven races Labonte doesn't.
Under the circumstances, Gilliland's availability was a stroke of good fortune for the Wood Brothers.
"Given the modified practice schedule, where the practices and qualifying are all being done on Saturday, we didn't feel there was enough time to make changes to the seat if Bill wasn't comfortable, and we needed to get another driver," said co-owner Eddie Wood. "We called David to see if he was available. Thankfully he was and agreed to help."
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News