Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus, is coming off his best NASCAR Winston Cup season in which he finished 20th in the final point standings and won the first series race of his career. Sadler spoke about testing at Daytona and...
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus, is coming off his best NASCAR Winston Cup season in which he finished 20th in the final point standings and won the first series race of his career. Sadler spoke about testing at Daytona and his goals for the 2002 season.
ELLIOTT SADLER --21-- Motorcraft Taurus
HOW HAVE THINGS GONE SO FAR? "We're not running as well as we would like. I'm not gonna try to sit here and be political either, but none of the Fords are really running the way we should be running. All of us are a little bit behind right now and we're trying to gain on it, but I don't think any of us are really happy right now. The thing is I think this is going to be a good package to race with. I think it's gonna be a lot safer than what we've raced with the last couple of years and I still think we're gonna put on a good show. I don't think you're gonna see one or two cars pull out. We're still gonna be 30 in a bunch, it just may be that handling is gonna be more important this year as far as holding the throttle down wide open. I still think you're gonna see great racing in the Daytona 500."
YOU WON AT BRISTOL LAST YEAR, BUT THE REST OF THE YEAR WAS SORT OF A STRUGGLE. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE THIS SEASON BETTER? "We're hoping it's gonna be better this year. We did get the win and all, but we didn't really have any impressive runs other than that. We really struggled, I think, especially the second half of the season. Once they gave the kickouts to the other cars they became a little bit better than we were and it just put us in a hole. We lost a lot of positions in the points the last half of the year and just really, really struggled. I think one of our best races all year was the last race of the season at New Hampshire. We went up there with a different package than we've ever tried to run and were pretty impressive most of the day. For the first three-quarters of the race we ran in the top 10 and that was definitely probably the best race we ran all year, other than Bristol and Daytona, so we're pretty optimistic about that. We're going to Lakeland (on Friday) to try and back up what we did at New Hampshire and see if what we saw there is true or not true. Then we're going to Vegas to test and then Texas and Bristol -- some of these tracks we think we can run very well at. We want to go there and see if we can get this season off to a good start."
QUALIFYING WAS AN OBVIOUS PROBLEM LAST YEAR. HOW DO YOU IMPROVE THAT? "I think the one motor rule is gonna help us a ton. We really don't have 100 percent qualifying motors because that's not what Roush does. They really focus more on their race stuff and most of their motors last, so I think we were giving up a lot to these teams that put so much money and effort in their qualifying motors. That means a lot at a lot of big tracks, so I think the one motor deal is really gonna help. We'll probably be qualifying the same, but I think it's gonna slow some of the other guys down some. I think you'll see our qualifying average come up and it needs to because you can't qualify 35th or 40th each week and expect to miss all the wrecks and run up front. That's not gonna happen in this day and time, so we definitely need to work on our qualifying. I think if we do that, it won't get us in a position where we might be a lap down early in the race and we can get some better finishes."
YOU HAVE A LOT OF THE SAME GUYS ON YOUR CREW THIS YEAR. DOES THAT CONSISTENCY HELP? "It's supposed to, but we'll just wait and see. We know where we were lacking last year and we'll see what happens. Pat (Tryson) and I have another year under our belt together and we kind of know what to expect from each other, so we'll see what happens. I do think that if we help our qualifying effort, our race results will definitely come around. That's something we're gonna work really hard on this year."