ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Stanley Dodge Charger) YOU'VE GOT A RACE UNDER YOUR BELT NOW, HOW DO YOU FEEL? "It's good to be back in the swing of things. We feel like we've met our goal as a company with the 44 being out of the top 35 in points....that...
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Stanley Dodge Charger) YOU'VE GOT A RACE UNDER YOUR BELT NOW, HOW DO YOU FEEL? "It's good to be back in the swing of things. We feel like we've met our goal as a company with the 44 being out of the top 35 in points....that was our main goal as of yesterday. Reed (Sorenson) and myself did all that we could to make sure we had all four cars in for sponsorship reasons. The future in this sport is with four cars; you've got to be (multiple teams) to be competitive as far as information and testing. We had to do everything we could yesterday to get the 44 in and that happened. We feel like we had a good accomplished day."
WHAT DID YOU DO TO GO BACK AND HELP THE 44? "Yeah, I dropped back and helped him and with seven laps to go, he got hung out by himself on the outside of Turn 1 all by himself. I went over there with him and hit him on the back straightaway as hard as you can hit somebody to try and keep his momentum up to keep us in line. I blocked the 71 a bunch and the 78 a bunch there behind me in the end, trying to do everything I could as a good teammate. That's what good teammates do...to try and get him in the Daytona 500."
IS THAT (GOING BACK TO HELP A TEAMMATE) EASIER SAID THAN DONE WHEN YOU'RE OUT THERE RACING? "Definitely. A few times on that last restart, I saw the 42 on the outside and the outside line was coming. I could have easily gotten in the outside line and finished fifth, sixth or seventh and probably got a better start for the Daytona 500. At the end of the day, what does that really mean (where you start in the Daytona 500)? So I decided to stay in line, that was the line AJ (Allmendinger) was in, and kept pushing him as hard as I could until things kind of worked themselves out. If I would have left and the guy behind him would have left, he would have gotten hung out. When you race like that, it's actually harder because you're paying attention to not only what you're doing, but you also have to pay attention to what your teammate needs and what he's doing. We're just lucky that we had two cars in the race with him and he wasn't out there in the race by himself."
WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO DO THAT...TO DO SOMETHING UNSELFISH...WITH WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YOU AND RPM DURING THE OFFSEASON? "No. You've got to be a man about these things. Kasey Kahne is the flagship driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports. But I'm the most experienced, oldest....been here the longest...if I don't lead by example and set good ways for the drivers to go by, who will? A lot of times you have to be the bigger man...race what's good for you and your company...and hopefully everyone will benefit in the future. That's what I did yesterday."
WOULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED IF THE ECONOMY WAS BETTER? "I learned from the best...Dale Jarrett...who was my favorite teammate the whole time that I've been in racing. He was all about helping the company. If you're not going to take care of your teammate, who the hell is? The economy is where it's at. When you're on the race track, you've got to take care of yourself first, but you've got to take care of the people who can take care of you the next week too. It all goes in full circles."
HOW HARD WAS IT TO SHOW UP AND KNOW THAT RPM DIDN'T WANT YOU? "It's been tough. It's been hard, but my guys on my team have been great. Kasey Kahne has been amazing on the phone with me all the time the whole winter just being a good, good friend. Dale Jr. was the first person to call me when everything happened. Just being a good friend. It's time like these that make you feel glad to be a part of a sport like this having people looking out for you. It was tough to show up a little bit. But once we got out on the race track and started racing and got my team behind me...we've got a lot of new guys on the 19 team this year....they feel like they have a lot to prove. I feel like I have something to prove. I want to go out there and run the best that I can on Sunday and shut the naysayers up. The biggest thing that I can do is bust my butt every Friday, Saturday and Sunday as hard as I can and turn it back on everyone else. So yes I am...a damn good racecar driver and I've been here 11 years for a reason."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GAINED SOME GOOD 'KARMA' POINTS FOR WHAT YOU DID? "I hope so (smiles). I better have. The Daytona 500 is a big, big race. It's very important for all of us to be a part of it. I've won the Duel races on Thursday....I've won a couple of them and I haven't won a 500. It doesn't mean that because you win on Thursday that you're going to win on Sunday. We learned a lot about our car yesterday. We had it in some situations and positions that we need to be better in. We know that. We have two more days to fine-tune and get ready for the race. I keep telling my crew chief, 'Let's peak on Sunday. We've been here before, we've been through this.' Sometimes you find stuff that's good for you that will help your car. But sometimes you'll find stuff that's going to hurt your car too. We just keep checking things off and narrowing which way to go...which direction we need to be in. Let's peak on Sunday and let's give these boys a run for their money."
HOW ARE THE THINGS PERSONALLY BETWEEN YOU AND AJ? "Personally, it's fine. We sat down when we first got down here ...our buses are parked beside each other...and said, 'Look, we need to work together. We need to help each other. Let bygones be bygones. I can be you're best friend and help you get through your career better and help me get my career better. We can definitely help each other.' So, personally everything is good. This is racing. If you're going into a race with a grudge or something wearing you and you're not focused 100 percent on your job, you're going to get your butt kicked every week. You can't do that."
AJ PROMISED YOU DINNER IF YOU HELPED HIM INTO THE 500, HAVE YOU GOTTEN IT YET? I'm waiting on mine...I'm waiting on mine."
ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE HIM PAY PRETTY HEAVILY? "No. I'm sure it will come back around. We had a team meeting yesterday before the Duel race and I told him, "Guys, when I was teammates with Dale Jarrett, you take care of your teammates.' This is a perfect example today. Just before the race happened, I said, 'We can take care of each other today and be better men for it after the race because it will come full circle.' And it will, that's just how the racing God's work. There's no paying...I owe you or you owe me...you just have to take care of each other."
WILL YOU MAKE HIM TAKE YOU TO AN EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT? "I hope so. I would think so (laughs). We'll see how it works out. I've got a couple of them (restaurants) picked out."
HAVE YOU CHANGED ENGINES YET THIS WEEKEND? "No. We're definitely going to change engines."
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO WOK ON IN PRACTICE TODAY? "We're going to work on some more handling issues that we ran into yesterday on long runs. We're going out there and make a 20-25 lap run and check our right-side tires. A couple of guys were blistering tires yesterday and we were one of them. So we want to make a long run today just fine-tune a little bit. We've got two more practices to fine-tune. We know that the engine is the engine that we've got. If we can get a plug-check on it and make sure that it's all crisp...but handling is the biggest thing for us right now."
NASCAR CHANGED THE RESTART RULE, WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT? "I think because on some of the rack tracks we've been having wrecks and people were running into each other because there was not clear definition when the leader could start. So to give us this zone, I think that it will just cut down the accordion effect we sometimes get on restarts. I think NASCAR wants to keep everyone in a tight box where nobody can wander away a little bit and cause some accidents. Keep the racing, not on restarts, but after you go back green."
WHAT ABOUT THE SINGLE-FILE RESTART RULE EXTENDED TO 20 LAPS? "I think that is a good decision with this new car because it's a little bit harder to pass with this car. So when it comes down to 20 laps and you've got a guy making a run back up through (the field), I think that it's more fair to him. Let the leader's race for the win. I think that's a good idea."
-credit: dodge motorsports