Bob McElwee doesn't sound like he is boasting. "If we finish, we should win," said the Fairfax stock car racer. Then, he pointed out, he rarely has finished this season, driving essentially the same car he placed third in the Old Dominion late model standings last year.

"I dnf'd (did not finish) four straight races this year," he said. "A blown engine and some little things did it. Just a string of bad luck."

A racer for about eight years, McElwee got it together two weeks ago when he outqualified the all-winning Danny Bennett to win the pole position for the Coke 100. Then the race was rained out so only his ego was helped.

"My car is faster than last year's, but everyone else is, too, especially Danny," said McElwee. "The only big thing we did was redskin it, hang new sheet metal on to make it an '80 Pontiac.We're using a 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, like almost everyone else. I still believe we're on the threshold of a good season."

The Rosenthal Pontiac McElwee racer is owned by an unlively partnership comprised of McElwee's "good friend and backer" Joseph L. Pierce of Annandale, a pharmacist and entrepreneur, and the driver. McElwee's full-time job is selling cars, Porsches and Audis, for Hugh Heishman, who, he says, doesn't mind his competing in Detroit iron.