Elliott Sadler - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: But you were ready to file a lawsuit to stay in the car. Was it the fact that you just realized that there was nothing better out there, that you needed to stay in this? What was the motivation there? ELLIOTT ...

Continued from part 1

Q: But you were ready to file a lawsuit to stay in the car. Was it the fact that you just realized that there was nothing better out there, that you needed to stay in this? What was the motivation there?

ELLIOTT SADLER: I think the motivation to me was, this is a lot bigger than just me, and I think sometimes fans don't realize that what - I have people I have to answer to, also, people that work with me, sponsors and stuff that I already have contracts in place with, and it was getting ready to get out of hand. Like I said before, I'm not the smartest guy when it comes to legal terms and papers and stuff like that. So I just wanted to make sure I protected myself, protect my sponsors, and I think it was a way of just making sure that we can take in every bit of information we can to make sure this works.

So it was a strategy they used. I had to trust them in what they were doing to do that. But it just got to where it was bigger than just me, and I'm glad we were able to reach a solution between myself and Gillett and also with Stanley and Coca-Cola and Best Buy because I want to represent these guys. I want to represent them the right way. I want to get this behind us and move on. That was my reasoning behind that.

Q: You seem to have really taken the high road on all this. Was that tough to do that?

ELLIOTT SADLER: You know, I think it was an eye-opener to me, as far as how fast things can happen in this sport, how you can't take anything for granted. I think, you know, there's a lot of different ways you can look at this, and you can be negative about it and you can be positive about it. I don't understand the reason of being negative about it.

You know, we've got our differences resolved for right now. We've got our team headed in the right direction. We feel like we've guy a handle on things in the direction we want to go. So I'm being positive about it. I'm in a race car and that's what I love to do, and I want to race hard.

I've seen the attitude at the shop the last couple days on how everybody has pulled together. I'm using this as a learning experience that me as a driver, I have to do a better job in the race car week in and week out and for the whole longevity of the season, so that's the way I'm looking at it. I'm not trying to nit-pick every little negative thing that could come out of this or try to get it out of it. I want to say, okay, this happened, it could have been a lot worse, it ended up - everything ended up okay. What can we learn from it as a team? What can the team do better? What can Elliott Sadler do better? Let's move on. And I think our sponsors deserve that.

Q: Thanks, and good luck on the marriage.

ELLIOTT SADLER: Thanks. One thing I want to say to you, and a lot of the media people have called me the last couple weeks, and not that I did not want to talk to you guys or was trying to ignore you, but it just wasn't professional for me to come out and try to talk about stuff I really didn't know until it was all resolved and moving ahead, so I appreciate the media people - you know who you are that called and offered support but also wanted stuff. I hope you guys understand the position we were all in. I was trying to protect myself, my sponsors and my team.

Q: I was wondering, as far as you're trying to improve performance, how much of it is getting the car to fit your style, and how much is it you possibly having to change your style to fit this new car?

ELLIOTT SADLER: You know, we met yesterday about four hours on that, me and my new crew chief Kevin. Last year we were trying to - because Kasey had some really successful runs, and we all want to work together as close as we can. But mine and Kasey's style are just not the same. We just do not drive the car the exact same. We hold the steering wheel a little different. It would be like Tiger Woods playing golf with Phil Mickelson's golf clubs with the same shafts in them. You try to do the same thing, but it's just not tailored to what I was trying to do.

We had a meeting about that yesterday, about how much we can actually share information between teams but how much each driver needs his own little twist to make himself feel comfortable and more competitive in the car. That's one of them things.

We're going to go to Rockingham and test and work through some things. Kevin's background with me, he understands what I liked a couple years ago and feel I need to be competitive, so we're going to work down that road and start as far as just trying to tailor as much things as we can to me to be competitive. So that's the first step.

My goal when we go to California and Vegas the first time is have a car that's comfortable and a car we can adjust throughout a 400- or 500-mile race.

Q: It seems to be the perception that A.J. Allmendinger's style and Kasey's style are the same. Do you and Reed share any of the same styles, do you know?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Reed and I have not tested yesterday at the same place with the same car, so that's something we're going to have to learn together as we go, and hopefully we'll be able to do that at Rockingham next week and kind of answer those questions. I do know A.J.'s and Kasey's style are very close, probably more than what mine and Kasey's are. That's something we have to learn as a team.

As we move forward with four teams, I think generally all the cars will be built alike, but each crew chief is going to have to put his own little bit on it to give the driver what he needs. That's all stuff we're learning.

Q: Have you talked to A.J. at all after all this stuff? You guys also had a little bit of history last year?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, I have not talked to A.J. I think the first time I talk to him will be at the test next week. I'm not really worried about that. I've talked to him in the past, and I don't think we have any differences personality-wise. I think we both just want to run good and we both want to be competitive.

I'm the senior member of the team; I have to be the leader of the team and initiate conversation and make sure we're all on the same page and stuff like that. I don't foresee any problems going on with A.J. and I. I like his style; he's very aggressive. He's a good guy to be around. We have had our differences, but you know what, I played on a lot of sports teams growing up, and I think any time you get competitive people fighting for the same real estate, you're going to have some type of differences of opinion.

But it takes real men to be able to learn those differences, use them in your favor and then move on ahead. We're all going to be teammates this year, and this sport is tough enough as it is. You've got to have people in your own shop pulling for you and working together, so I think that's the way it's going to be here in the future.

Q: Earlier you said that you were not really satisfied with your 2008 season, that you felt what happened in the off-season was providing motivation and that you felt like you had something to prove. What kind of results at the end of the 2009 season would you be satisfied with that you think would enable you to prove what you say you need to prove?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Well, I think, to me, and this might be far fetched for some and it might be right on time for some. You know, I've been a part of the Chase one year; the next year I barely missed it by like 12 points. That is my goal. I cannot look my guys in the face that work ten hours a day at the shop and tell them my goal is not to be in the Chase and be a part of the sport's elite group. I think we can do that, but a lot of things have to go our way and go right to make that happen. But that is our goal.

I think that's every team's goal at the beginning of the season. I think we can make it happen. I have that much confidence in Kevin who we brought in as a crew chief, and a lot of things are going to have to go right for us, but we can do it. We can be a part of that.

My teammate Kasey got so close last year, was in the Top 10 in the points the whole year, and just a little bit of bad luck here and there, and we did miss it as an organization. But that gives us a little bit of confidence, along with what I feel I have to prove. You know, I'm almost in Kyle Busch's shoes from last year going over to Gibbs where I feel like I've got a lot to prove and you want to make everybody understand how hard of a driver and the personality you have week in and week out, and I want to do that.

Maybe I've lost some of that confidence maybe from some of the media and stuff in the sport, but I want to gain that back. I want to be a top tier driver in this sport, and I've got to get my butt in gear and I've got to do good and race hard each and every lap and make that happen. This is the best motivation I've had in a long, long time to make sure when I start at Daytona to start off on the right foot and do the best job I can.

Q: Elliott, best wishes with the wedding this weekend.

ELLIOTT SADLER: I've had a pretty interesting week. Y'all haven't asked me the good question yet. The wedding is Saturday. If I have two minutes, I've got to tell you something. We're planning this honeymoon to go out of the United States, so I need a passport. Well, my passport was out of date, so I sent it in to get reinstated, but somehow my passport has been reported lost or stolen. So they've got a red flag up on security on my passport, so here I am three days before the wedding, we're supposed to leave Sunday and fly out of the country on our honeymoon, and I don't have a passport and don't know if I'm going to get one. So actually the questions you guys are giving me today are pretty easy to the questions I think my wife is going to ask me Sunday if I'm not allowed to go on the honeymoon.

Q: You're telling me you need a tip on a boat skipper to get you over there?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, I guess I'm a threat to national security is why my passport has been red-flagged, because it has been reported stolen or lost. If anybody knows anybody in D.C. that can get me a passport, if y'all don't mind calling me, maybe you can help me out a little bit.

Q: Seriously, good luck with that, golly.

ELLIOTT SADLER: Tell me about it.

Q: How do you respond to anyone that would say that Dodge has fallen behind in Cup racing, and are you optimistic about how competitive the Charger is going to be in '09, and what are you seeing that makes you feel that's the case?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Well, I'll tell you what, statistics don't lie no matter what you're talking about or who you're talking about. Not having a Dodge in the Chase I think means that, yeah, we have fallen behind a little bit. Does that mean it's the manufacture's fault? No, it's not. It means us as Dodge teams have to do a better job, whether it's working together more or figuring out more information to run faster. Not having a Dodge in the Chase last year I think was tough for the manufacturer to swallow and tough for the teams to swallow.

When you have that many other manufacturers that are involved in the Chase, you know, it makes you hungry to want to try to be a part of it next year. Yeah, there are some things we've got to do better as teams, but we can't just sit here and say, oh, yeah, it's the manufacturer. There's no way we can sit here and say that. We have to be accountable for the information they're giving us, putting it on the racetrack and hopefully be good enough to make the Chase. We were behind last year. Definitely, we didn't make the Chase. So we were definitely behind the last year. We just means we've got to work harder this year and hopefully be okay.

Q: With the team's acclimating to the new car over the last two years, it's almost like trying to hit a moving target because just as soon as they get used to it and make the necessary improvements to be competitive, then somebody discovers something and all those parameters go out the door. So given Kevin's chassis expertise, how much that doing to help you in getting that feel that you need, because it seems like maybe 10 percent of the drivers have found the feel that they need in this car and the rest are still searching?

ELLIOTT SADLER: You're exactly right. Each driver has probably had to change his driving style, or what he likes or dislikes about this new car. It's a lot different animal. You have to accept the fact that it is a different animal, and you've got to figure out what works for you. And definitely certain drivers have hit it, some have not, and some are kind of in the middle. One big reason why to hire Kevin is, one, he already knew what I liked to feel in the race car to be competitive; but two, he tested over 40 times last year at different tracks with the COT car so he's tested a lot of different things and learned a lot of different information.

We were sitting in a meeting this morning with a couple of crew chiefs and engineers figuring a couple directions that we need to go down for the first couple races. It seems like what we had at Homestead is already out of date for when we get to California. What we have in California for the first race will be out of date by the time we get to Charlotte here in May.

It's tough, and it puts a bind on the teams, especially with the testing policy that we have now, to play catch-up, but you just hope that you work hard and you try to cross all the t's that you can and dot all the i's, and hopefully you'll find something. We're going to try some different things the first couple races and hopefully something sticks and we'll move on from there.

Q: I understand Gillett is supposed to go to the proving ground. Obviously a lot bigger plans this weekend. Are you going to have a chance to test before you go to Daytona just to give Kevin a feel where you are with the car?

ELLIOTT SADLER: Yeah, the best news my wife heard the whole this week was, "Baby, we're coming home early from the honeymoon because I'm going to test Rockingham." So we are; we're going to Rockingham next Wednesday. Every Gillett driver, crew chief, engineer, Robby Loomis, every moving major part. Kevin and I talked about it today, to try to go back to Rockingham again two more times before we even get to Daytona, just to make sure our communication is right, just to make sure we're on the same page.

Yesterday we sat in a meeting for four hours together and I had to relive pretty much every race weekend last year, and we picked the races we thought we were competitive at, and we picked the races that we thought, man, we need to be better at. We tried to find a common denominator with both. It was a hard meeting, it was a tough meeting, but we think we got a lot of stuff out in the open so when we go to Rockingham the next two weeks we'll know what to work on to make Elliott Sadler a faster, more competitive race car driver week in and week out.

HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, and Elliott Sadler, appreciate you taking the time out, and obviously a lot going on, so thanks for fitting us into your schedule. Best of luck at Daytona.

ELLIOTT SADLER: All right, guys. I really appreciate that a lot. Thank you.

-credit: nascar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger , Elliott Sadler