ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 1st) HOW DID IT FEEL TO WAIT SO LONG? "It was pretty exciting, actually, to kind of wait through all those cars. To go out that early and have to wait through people like Jeff Gordon, Jerry...
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 1st)
HOW DID IT FEEL TO WAIT SO LONG?
"It was pretty exciting, actually, to kind of wait through all those cars. To go out that early and have to wait through people like Jeff Gordon, Jerry Nadeau and especially Ryan Newman, I didn't even want to hear his lap time. I just kind of waited to hear what the crowd's reaction was gonna be when he went. But we were very fast all day. I only made two laps in practice. We didn't touch one thing, so that tells me how good a job the guys did at the shop preparing this car. We rolled it off the truck very fast and it feels good to be able to give back to Robert and Doug Yates for giving me this chance, to get those guys a pole this early in the season, and to get my first pole. To give Raymond Fox his first pole as a crew chief. To give M&M's their first pole in NASCAR Winston Cup racing as a sponsor, so a lot of firsts going on here today makes this team very special and really gets us pumped up, hopefully, for a good day on Sunday."
HAS DALE JARRETT ASKED YOU FOR ANY ADVICE?
"Actually, the first time I ever came to this race track is where I asked Dale Jarrett for advice back in 1996. This track has a lot of history and a lot of meaning to Elliott Sadler himself. The only thing we talked about with DJ, he came up and congratulated me and I thanked him for all the help he's given me this year. We were just talking about stuff for the race and making sure we have good cars for Sunday. We both brought our Rockingham cars here. This is the same car I passed all those cars with that Sunday at Rockingham, so it's my favorite car in the stable and, hopefully, we'll get some of the same results out of it here this weekend."
HOW MUCH DID IT BOTHER YOU NOT TO WIN A POLE?
"A lot, not to have a pole and have a 145 chances at it and never get a pole. I got bit so bad by the bug at Texas last year where we sat on the pole almost the whole entire time and then Bill Elliott went out right at night time and beat us. Man, it's like I never recovered from that one instance. I really wanted to get a pole for Eddie and Len (Wood) before I left and Eddie Wood was the first person to congratulate me a little while ago, so that's really special to me. But to be able to do it this early with a new team and a young team like we have is great. I knew these guys could give it to me. They've been telling me they're gonna get me a pole this year and to get it this early and get it off our shoulders, you don't understand how big of a relief this is and the weight that's been taken off my shoulders. A lot of critics have been watching us a lot this first half of the season, some wanting us to fail and some wanting us to succeed, so to be able to come away with a pole here today is great for us."
DID YOU EVER THINK IT WOULD START RAINING?
"Yeah, it's pretty funny. I was listening to everybody do the broadcast and when the 12 car came out, and I knew that's who I was gonna have to beat, period - and then when he didn't beat us I said, 'You know what, it's getting cooler and the wind is picking up. I wish these guys would just run one lap at a time and hurry up and get qualifying over with.' So, yeah I did. It's just like when people say they're winning a race the last five laps and you start to hear everything fall apart, it's the same thing when you're waiting. You start analyzing. 'Yeah, this guy was not real fast in practice, but he's a good qualifier here.' You start analyzing everybody that goes out, you start looking at the weather. 'It's two degrees cooler than it was when I went out. The track could be a little faster.' So you're going through all of that and it's twice as bad when you're going for your first pole. Raymond and I were a nervous wreck. We were sitting up there together in the front of the truck, we had the door slammed and locked so nobody could bother us, and we were just up there nervous together. It worked out pretty good."
HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS THE POLE WHEN THE RACE STARTS?
"Here, if you've got a good race car it doesn't matter where you start from. But as far as the prestige, I think for our race team this is huge. I started sixth here last year in the spring and finished second, so track position is very important I think. But as far as the prestige of the pole, that will go away as soon as the green flag drops on Sunday. As far as doing it for a race team that is under the microscope that we're under and doing it for my crew chief Raymond Fox, his very first pole as a crew chief, I think that prestige is gonna last a little while longer than the race on Sunday. But we know once the green flag drops it doesn't matter where you start. That can all change the first two laps, so we've got to get down to business and race like we're capable of racing."
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF DARLINGTON LOST A RACE?
"I think that's one of the things that has made me so happy about today is that this is not like winning a pole at Talladega, where the car and the motor and the body is so important. It is here, too, but, like Robert Yates says, this is a real pole for driver at a place like this. To be able to get it at a place like Darlington makes me feel good. This is a very prestigious race track to all the race car drivers. This is a cornerstone of NASCAR Winston Cup racing, so to try to win a race here or lose a race, it means a lot to your race team. So we're gonna try to do everything we can to keep ourselves in position of winning this race. I was so close the last spring race with the 40 car, so I know what it's like to run up front late in the race at this particular track, so, hopefully, we can try to hit on it and maybe come in one position better on Sunday."
WHO DOESN'T WANT YOU TO DO WELL?
"We've been reading articles all winter long, my team has, about me being an underachiever and likes to wreck a lot, and we're gonna be 25th or 30th in the points this year. I'm not saying they don't like us, I'm saying they maybe don't want us to run as good, I think, as this team is capable of running. I'm not pointing fingers. I hope you all like me. I thought I've been nice to everybody I've been around, but there are people that I've read stories - we've kept them and put them up in our race shop. We say, 'Look, these people right here think we have no chance of winning a race this year. These people think we have no chance of starting on the pole. These people think we're gonna take 20 provisionals this year.' Hey, we're keeping all of that. That's our motivation. That's the only thing I was hitting on. It's not like you physically don't like me."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED - YOU ONLY MADE FIVE LAPS IN PRACTICE?
"The weather stayed about the same all day as far as track temperature was concerned. The sun tried to come out a few times during practice, but I think once I ran my very first lap in practice on stickers, they wanted to go out again. I was like, 'Look, I've got this lap in my head being on stickers. I don't want to go out there and mess it up on scuffs and then really have to re-learn your next run again on stickers.' So I just made my sticker run and said, 'Hey, just tape it up solid and let's put stickers on again. That way, if I stay on stickers the whole day, I'll know what my car is gonna do and I'll know how to react to it.' That's the kind of mentality I used today."
NO THOUGHT OF RACE PRACTICE IN CASE IT RAINS?
"We thought about that, but we were so fast and being I had never gotten a pole before, we didn't want to take that chance of re-doing everything - sliding, maybe rubbing the wall, whatever. We didn't want to take any chances we didn't have to because the pole was very important to my race team today."
ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW FAST THE TEAM HAS GELLED?
"I'm very happy with the way we're gelling and I think a big part of that is how close we're working with DJ and Brad and everybody on the 88 also. It's a lot bigger unit and core group of minds than what I thought it was gonna be when I first signed up a couple months ago. They've helped Raymond a lot. Doug has put a lot of great people around Raymond to help him in his first year as a crew chief, and I think bringing Shawn Parker on board was a huge success for our race team also. We've got a lot of good, young guys on our race team. We're a very young race team and to kind of put out the results we're putting out right now has been good. Doug has done a really good job putting a great bunch of minds around our team with engineers and people with experience like Todd Parrott to make sure we're going in the right direction."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED - YOU WERE SHAKING WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR. WHY?
"Ryan said I had never gone that fast before and that's why I was shaking. I think here, if you run a good lap here or any lap here, it doesn't matter where you qualify, you're on the edge for one complete lap. Combining the effort that I put in, yeah, we ran a good lap and I was close to the wall all the way around and then they called my time out to me, that just made me that much more nervous. I was like, 'Wow, I do have a shot at the pole today. I put down a really good lap. If they can beat that, they need to go ahead.' But I think it was all those emotions running at me at one time. Yeah, running close to the wall, but also the opportunity of getting my first pole also had me nervous as well."