Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion, is coming off a fourth-place finish in last week's Daytona 500. He spoke about this weekend's event prior to practice. ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion WHAT'S THE KEY...
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion, is coming off a fourth-place finish in last week's Daytona 500. He spoke about this weekend's event prior to practice.
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion
WHAT'S THE KEY TO QUALIFYING WELL HERE? "You just have to have a good comfortable race car. This is a great race track. There are a lot of different grooves on it. A driver can really move around a bunch, so it's a fun place to race. As far as qualifying, you've got to have a lot of horsepower to go down the straightaways. We're gonna trim our car out a lot to try to get all the straightaway speed we can and get the engine tuned as much as we can and just kind of go from there."
DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM CAN COMPETE WITH THE ROUSH AND HENDRICK CAMPS AT TRACKS LIKE THIS? "I think we're getting closer to where we need to be. I still think the Roush guys have got everybody beat right now on bodies and things like that. They tested very well at Vegas. I think until somebody knocks them off the perch that's the team to beat -- here, Vegas, Atlanta, Texas -- all the fast mile and a half, two-mile race tracks. I think we've closed the gap a little bit on them. Tommy's got a great plan for coming to these race tracks and it's made me more comfortable with my feelings and my driving style coming here, so only time will tell and only racing conditions will tell. We think we're gonna be close, but we'll see what happens."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE SOME MOMENTUM? "I think we've got great momentum behind us. I think we got a good shot in the arm last week -- qualifying well, winning the duel race, getting a top five at Daytona, coming to a track that we have won at before. We've got two out of the last three races that are top 10s. We brought my favorite race car that I've ever had at Robert Yates Racing, so we've got some momentum on our side. We think we're gonna have a great weekend. We just sat down and pretty much laid out what we wanted to accomplish this weekend -- get us another top 10, get out of here and move on to the weekend off and get ready for Vegas. If we can get this attitude every week, get some top 10s and top 5s under our belts, the wins will come. But right now we're trying to build a good foundation between Tommy and I and the rest of the guys -- a good communication level between us -- and we'll move on from there."
WHAT MAKES THIS A GOOD PLACE FOR YOU? "It just fits my driving style. For some reason I've always gotten along good with the mile and a half and two-mile tracks -- a momentum race track. I'm a momentum driver. If you keep your momentum up on these tracks, you're gonna have a good finish. It just fits my driving style, just like different golfers have different golf courses that fit their golf game. I can't pinpoint why or why not. I wish I ran as good at Martinsville as I run good here, but it just doesn't happen that way. When you go to places that a driver feels comfortable at you've got to take advantage of it. You've got to get the most points you can and that's our mindset here at California."
WHAT DO YOU HAVE? "This is the same car we sat on the pole with at Indy and was very, very fast with. We pretty much haven't run it since. It's been sitting on jack stands. Tommy liked the way it looked. He brought it out and we put a different style of body on it and did some other things to it that he likes and I'm looking forward to getting into it. I'm looking forward to it."
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE CHAD KNAUS SUSPENSION? "I think the suspension fit the crime for what Chad was doing, but, this is just my opinion, I think when a team is found guilty of breaking the rules the team should also lose points. We shouldn't have pinpointed Chad Knaus, I don't think. It's a team sport. Somebody else could have done the crime, but I think the team should have probably received some type of points penalty or something like that. That just seems to be the way the sport has been going. NASCAR has done a great job of making sure we penalize the driver points, make sure we penalize the team points because money usually doesn't do anything to these guys, so I would have liked to have seen any kind of points taken away because it was blatant, I think. That's my opinion. Everybody has one. I think as far as the weeks off, I think NASCAR was very fair with that."
WOULD 25 POINTS OR 50 POINTS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE AS FAR AS MAKING THE CHASE? "NASCAR is probably looking at that. We didn't use to have any points at all and then Mike Helton did a good job with putting in the 25 points rule. Now I think if you caught once, 25 points. If you get caught twice, go to 75 or 100 points. Go up everytime that you're caught doing something like that, especially if it's on purpose. I can understand if something is broke or something like that and you can't make it through tech, but if something is done on purpose, I think we ought to have a little stiffer points penalty than what we've got."
WE SAW A LOT OF EMOTIONS LAST WEEK AT DAYTONA. WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF THAT? "I think the competition is getting so good in this sport and the pressure is going through the roof with this making the chase deal. You've got to be in the top 10 or you feel like your season is at a whole loss. I think you're gonna see more pressure on every driver and every team each and every week we come out -- even this race. We're 24p races away from the cutoff, but every team is feeling the pressure of trying to get all the points they can each and every week and when something happens to a driver that they don't like, or they get caught up in somebody else's mishap, there's a lot of frustration that's gonna come out. I think you're gonna see more and more of that as the year goes on and each year there's so much pressure on us and the competition is so tight that the frustration is just riding high right now."
IS IT WORTH TALKING TO THE PERSON YOU HAD AN INCIDENT WITH LATER IN THE WEEK? "Yeah, I think you need to talk to them later in the week because I think points are too expensive. I think they're too hard to gain and too easy to lose to try to get in a take-out match each and every week, where you're hurting each other and you're hurting each other's teams. I think if something does happen between you and a driver on the track, the best way to do it is to go solve it off the track and try to explain what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. That's my opinion on it."
DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? "I think it does. I think when a guy takes you out it makes a big difference whether they call you or not to let you know whether they meant it or not. You'll think about it all week if somebody takes you out and they haven't called. It kind of makes you upset that they're not man enough to do it. It's always better if you make that phone call if you mess up or they make that phone call if they mess up."
TONY HAS BEEN IN THE NEWS LATELY. HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN ISSUE WITH HIM? "I have never had any problems with Tony Stewart. We were rookies together. One thing I learned about Tony from day one. He races you how you race him. If you're gonna race him very, very hard and try to take air off of his spoiler and stuff everytime you're around him, he's gonna do the same to you. If you know how to give and take with him, he's gonna give and take with you. I have never had one ounce of problem with him."