Fontana: Sadler - Friday media visit

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger) TALK ABOUT THE START OF YOUR SEASON AND THE THOUGHT THAT YOU CAN WIN AGAIN? "We got off to a great start. Anytime you go to Daytona and finish in the top five you feel like you're ahead of the game...

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger)

TALK ABOUT THE START OF YOUR SEASON AND THE THOUGHT THAT YOU CAN WIN AGAIN? "We got off to a great start. Anytime you go to Daytona and finish in the top five you feel like you're ahead of the game and have some momentum coming into the second race. It's definitely good for your mentality. It's definitely good for your race team. I'm looking forward to racing here at California. Richard Petty told me twenty minutes before practice started that last week was last week and this week is this week and what we did with our restrictor-plate race has nothing to do with what we're going to do today. We're going to go out and work hard today, get the best qualifying effort that we can, this is when you start points racing today. We feel like we had a pretty good practice. We have won here in the past so I have a little confidence at this race track and hopefully we'll have a good day on Sunday."

HOW IS YOUR CAR TODAY? "We just did qualifying stuff today. We just want to run good for 500 miles on Sunday. This is a very long race and being a two-mile race track, it's very hard on engines. So we took care of our stuff today as best we could. You're not going to learn anything being out of the car and out of the race on Sunday. So we're going to try and get a good, safe setup in it tomorrow...something that's adjustable because we start so late in the afternoon. The track's going to change some and hopefully we're going to be able to change with it."

KASEY (KAHNE) AND REED (SORENSON) SAID THAT THEY HAVEN'T HAD A SIT DOWN MEETING WITH RICHARD PETTY YET. HAVE YOU? "I've actually talked to him a lot the last couple of weeks. Anytime that he comes around I like to stop and talk to him. We had a fifteen minute conversation today. Sometimes you don't realize how much knowledge somebody has the way they look at things until you sit down and talk to them. He's given me some great ideas. Some of the advice he gave me today about last week...how to handle it and how to be focused for this week...was pretty cool. So, it's neat having him around. He has so much racing experience and you can't buy that. It's not something that you can go buy off a shelf somewhere. It's cool having him around, I love talking to him. I think he's going to do a lot of great things for our race team. He's somebody with a lot of experience, somebody who's been there and done that. There's a lot of knowledge there to be gained."

WITH THE 'BOX' THAT THE TEAMS ARE WORKING IN, WHERE IS THE MOST EFFORT BEING SPENT? "I don't know if every team is going to have the same answer to that. Right now, we have a lot of effort put into our front clips, front geometry, trying to get the front tires to work as efficient as we can. Some owners may be thinking its body, motors, rear clips, center cage....there are many things that you can work on. Right now we're really working on our front clips area, bump stop and front geometry stuff. As a team, we think that's where we need to be better. Right now, that's where the emphasis has been with winter testing so far."

HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DO YOU GET WORKING WITH A CREW CHIEF (KEVIN BUSKIRK) THAT YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH...ESPECIALLY WITH COMMUNICATION? "Of course we're working on a different race car...different Goodyear tires than what we had five or six years ago. Kevin's) belief in me and my belief in him goes a long way. We're very much alike. We're not afraid to show what we're really feeling. We definitely wear our feelings on our shoulders and that's good. So far, so good. We're still early into it (the season). We have a lot of work to do yet. So far our communication has been fun and good and we're both learning together."

LIKE THIS SEASON, DODGE STARTED STRONG LAST YEAR IN DAYTONA, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FONTANA AND LAS VEGAS? HAS DODGE FIGURED OUT ITS INTERMEDIATE PROGRAM? "We (our race team) have a lot of work to do....so does Penske. We all worked together really well for the Daytona 500 last year and worked together as best we could this year too. I think that's why you see some Dodge's in the top 10. We understand that last week has nothing to do with racing at California and Vegas. It's just a different animal. It's almost like soccer and baseball, comparing them together. There's that much difference between restrictor-plate racing and racing on intermediate tracks. We have work to do. We need to get stronger as a race team. The manufacturer needs to get stronger. We all need to be stronger. Have we closed that gap? I don't know. I'll tell you Sunday night about eight o'clock. The way that our cars are driving and the horsepower that we have, we feel like we've closed that gap a little bit on the Chevrolets that were so dominant here last year."

IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR ABOUT YOUR CARS TO MAKE THEM BETTER? "Yeah, we need to make our cars turn a little better. Once we make our cars turn a little better, we want to run a little bit more tape. Chevrolet runs a little bit more tape than we do. Those are two of the things that we're working hard on as a group at Richard Petty Motorsports. Tape is speed. If you can run a quarter-inch of tape...which may not seem like a lot...is about eight or nine position on the track on Sunday. It's little stuff like that where we can run our engines a little hotter without breaking them. It's little stuff that we're doing with Dodge to make happen."

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY HAS HAD A TOUGH TIME SELLING TICKETS AND HASN'T CAPTURED THE 'LA' SPIRIT. WOULD PUTTING RESTRICTOR-PLATES ON THE CARS WORK HERE? "I don't think so. I don't think it's the racing part; we just have to do a better job of getting fans to this particular race track. If I had anything to do with this race track, I would go to every single middle school within 50 miles of this place and give away free tickets. What's the difference in an empty seat and a free ticket? You might sell a Coca-Cola to them in the stands. I would go to every Boys and Girls Club, the Girl Scouts, Middle Schools....give away tickets. Give them a chance to come to this race that might not have come before. You might make a fan; you might not. If you don't make a fan, what have you lost? You really haven't lost anything because you didn't have anyone in the seat anyhow. If you gain a fan, you maybe gain a couple tickets for next year. That's my Emporia (Virginia) opinion which is not worth two-cents out here in Los Angeles, California. I think changing the racing (to restrictor-plate), you would have to spend a lot of money on the race track (because you'd have to change the track for restrictor-plate racing) and who knows if it will work. I think that we're competing against a lot of things...with the Oscars...there's a lot of things that go on out here other than Sprint Cup racing. I would really concentrate on Ontario and surrounding areas rather than LA. LA is a long ways from here."

EVEN IF THEY JUST PUT RESTRICTOR-PLATES ON THE CARS WITHOUT CHANGING THE TRACK? "It would be the worse race you've ever seen. It would be like New Hampshire was in 2001. We have a hard time passing now. If you cut our horsepower in half, nobody would be able to pass. We'd have an aero push and we wouldn't have enough motor and everybody would be tight. You wouldn't have enough motor to break the rear-end loose to try and make passes. I see what you're saying, but I think that you would have to adjust the track with it."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Richard Petty