Sadler 23rd in Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 16, 2003) - In a rain-shortened Daytona 500, which crowned Michael Waltrip the winner, Elliott Sadler and the "M&M's" team finished in the 23rd position. Strategy and patience would be the...
Sadler 23rd in Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 16, 2003) - In a rain-shortened Daytona 500, which crowned Michael Waltrip the winner, Elliott Sadler and the "M&M's" team finished in the 23rd position.
Strategy and patience would be the key to victory lane as Sadler started 16th. Shortly after the green flag dropped he didn't waste a minute making his way through the draft into the sixth position. He rode behind the strong Dale Earnhardt, Inc. cars with the help of a push from Robby Gordon under threatening skies. As the first fuel run wore on Sadler's car became tight. The "M&M's" crew made an air pressure adjustment and changed four tires during the first pit stop on lap 34. Sadler then worked his way up to fourth. Luckily, he was in front of the big crash that occurred on lap 57 involving Ryan Newman and Ken Schrader.
Sadler made some impressive moves on the track as the field went back to green. Soon he was riding second behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Then the rain came.
The red flag waved over the Daytona 500 for 68 minutes before the track was dried and Sadler was able to get back behind the wheel. On the restart, Sadler's ignition box malfunctioned and he had to switch to the backup while losing precious real estate on the track. He was shuffled back to 23rd position.
Crew Chief Raymond Fox decided to bring Sadler back into the pits on lap 95 for fuel only due to rain in the area. He then pitted a second time on lap 98 for four tires. When the race restarted Sadler was in 33rd position. Before the final rain showers came again, Sadler raced his way back to 23rd for the finish at lap 109.
"We had a car capable of winning," said Sadler. "It's never a really good day when you know you can win and you just run out of time. Today Mother Nature didn't cooperate and we just got the short end of the deal. This 'M&M's' team has worked real hard over the off season and we are going to go get them next week at Rockingham. Everyone did a great job today, we just ran out of time."
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will put Speedweeks at Daytona to rest making their next stop at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham for the Subway 400 Sunday, February 23rd.