Daytona 500: Ford pre-race interviews

Elliott and Hermie Sadler have competed against each other in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races before, but never the Daytona 500. That will change tomorrow as Elliott pilots his No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion and Hermie debuts with the No. 00 ...

Elliott and Hermie Sadler have competed against each other in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races before, but never the Daytona 500. That will change tomorrow as Elliott pilots his No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion and Hermie debuts with the No. 00 Aaron's Ford Fusion. While Elliott practiced on track today, Hermie opted not to risk an incident in practice and took the day off to take his family to nearby Disney World.

HERMIE SADLER -- No. 00 Aaron's Ford Fusion (Reached via cell phone while on one of the attractions).

HERMIE SADLER, YOU'VE JUST QUALIFIED FOR THE DAYTONA 500. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? "I'm going to Disney World!" WHY ARE YOU AT DISNEY WORLD TODAY? "My youngest daughter Naomi had never been to Disney World, so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone -- take my youngest daughter to Disney World and celebrate making the Daytona 500."

WHY NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ONE MORE PRACTICE SESSION? "We've put a lot of time and effort into our primary car. We worked hard during the off-season and the car has been fast the whole time we've been down here for Speedweeks. We didn't want to take a chance of something happening during practice. The car was fast in practice and in the Duel on Thursday, and we feel like we've done everything we can do to get ready. This is the first time I've been able to come down to Daytona and really enjoy the week, so I wanted to take advantage of it. That's why I'm here at Disney World taking the day off and enjoying some time with my family. Tomorrow we'll get back to business."

ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion

"I think it's great. This is Hermie's first Daytona 500 and he's tried many, many times, so for him to make it in on time was great. I know he's excited. He's probably a little nervous. I'm nervous for him because this is the Great American Race and it's cool to be able to share this with the whole family. My mom and dad are here. My sister is here and all of my nieces, so the whole family is down here. To be able to share us starting the Daytona 500 together and to share us winning the Duel race on Thursday, the Sadler family has had a great week."

***

Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 61 Amp Energy Drink Ford, raced his way into the Daytona 500 in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150. Lepage, who finished ninth in this event last year, spoke about making it back with a different team.

KEVIN LEPAGE -- No. 61 Amp Energy Drink Ford

IS IT MORE GRATIFYING TO RACE YOUR WAY IN LIKE YOU DID THURSDAY? "It really is. Each year with the new rules, last year we knew what we had to do and we had a real good race car and got in, but this year I think there was a lot more competition that came to the Daytona 500 that had to race their way in. To do it on Thursday the way we did racing Bill Elliott and Mike Skinner is a testament to what kind of team we have here with the Amp Energy Ford."

HOW MUCH OF A BOOST DID THAT GIVE THIS TEAM FROM A SPONSORSHIP STANDPOINT? "The Amp Energy Drink people came aboard for this race and they told us that if we could make the 500 it would be something for them to look at for future races. We have Road Loans on the car for California and three other races, so we have really opened the door to a lot of sponsorships to say, 'We are a viable race team and we are gonna race the whole year.' We can race the way we need to race and to do it on Thursday and get into one of the biggest races of the year, if not the biggest race of the year, shows what kind of dedication this team has to compete."

YOU WERE NINTH LAST YEAR BUT THE THINGS DIDN'T PAN OUT WITH THAT TEAM. DOES THIS HAVE A DIFFERENT FEEL TO IT? "No doubt. Last year our season revolved around the Daytona 500. If we made it, we were gonna continue racing. If not, we were gonna pick and choose. So after we finished ninth the owner said, 'OK, we're gonna race for the championship.' Well, we had one car ready to go to California. Here we have seven cars ready. We've got the same team that we finished with last year and we committed to run the whole season back in August of last year when I came aboard. We're further ahead than we were last year and to come in here and being out of the top 35, we know we have points coming in on Sunday and that's just a huge boost for what's gonna happen in California and Vegas and the other races."

AFTER LAST YEAR YOU MUST HAVE HIGH HOPES FOR TOMORROW. "We had a real good race car in the 150. We made a gear change early in the day and we bounced around with that decision. We went with a gear that we thought would be right and it wasn't right, so now we're gonna work on that change. We've got to look at the weather real close. Sunday's weather looks like it's gonna be cloudy. That's what it was on Thursday. Our gear change was based on sun, which was supposed to come out. Regardless of what happens and what changes we make, we're in the Daytona 500 and we'll do the best job we can."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Skinner , Kevin Lepage , Hermie Sadler