M&M's announced earlier today that they have extended their contract with Robert Yates Racing and Elliott Sadler for three years, which will keep Sadler behind the wheel through 2008. Members of the RYR organization took part in a Q&A session to...
M&M's announced earlier today that they have extended their contract with Robert Yates Racing and Elliott Sadler for three years, which will keep Sadler behind the wheel through 2008. Members of the RYR organization took part in a Q&A session to discuss the deal and other issues prior to Friday's practice sessions.
EDDIE D'HONDT, General Manager, Robert Yates Racing
"I'd like to officially announce the re-signing of M&M's Masterfoods and Elliott Sadler to a contract extension through 2008. We're very proud of that. What most of you know from following us over the years is that our company mirrors the family image that the Masterfoods Company displays the way they run their business and we're pretty proud of that. We're very, very happy to have Elliott Sadler as our driver for the next three years. We're very excited as we watch his maturation into what we feel is one of the best drivers in the Nextel Cup Series right now. We're watching him grow to become that now and it's exciting for us because we feel like we've built a team to back him not only now, but in the years to come."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
"I want to thank Eddie for that and Robert and Doug and everybody at RYR. It was a very exciting day this past week when we signed and made everything official. I think there was never any doubt that we were gonna continue this relationship, but to go through the process and get it done through 2008 is a great, great feeling for me and my family. I feel like we're just beginning as a race team. Todd and I, it's only our second year working together. I think we learned a lot last year together and I just can't see breaking up this team right now. I love it over here at Robert Yates Racing. The first thing my teammate told me was that if I ever went to race there, I'd never want to race anywhere else and he hit it right on the head. They treat you like gold. They treat you like part of the family and really roll out the red carpet, not only for the drivers but for everybody that's involved with the team. The things that Mr. Yates does and Eddie D'Hondt for the crew members and their families - with all the functions they have - is absolutely unbelievable. There's no place better that I can see working at, so I was glad to get it signed and get it over with and now it's time to get down to business and try to go win ourselves a Nextel Cup championship."
ARE YOU AND THE TEAM DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENT AS FAR AS PREPARING FOR THE CHASE? "I think we learned a lot from the chase last year. We kind of went in with a nothing-to-lose attitude and we were making some decisions and calls, not only myself but Todd, that were maybe a lot different than what we were doing during the season to get into the chase. You know, I had the fullcourt press on way too early as a driver. I was really worried about what everybody else was doing, instead of really what we were doing on the race track. I put myself in situations I didn't need to be in. A lot of people have to remember that that was my first time actually running for a championship and running up front. That's a lot different mentality than just running 20th every week, so I had a lot to learn. I think I learned from that and took a lot of advice from my teammate and I've been trying to put that to good use this year. I feel like I'm a lot more mature of a race car driver this year and I understand what racing is all about - who to race, when to race, the whole nine yards. Hopefully, we're doing a good job with that now and I just hope we can carry that through the chase at the end of the season."
TODD PARROTT, Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
WHAT ABOUT THE GEAR RULE THIS WEEKEND? "It's definitely gonna present a bunch of challenges. We've been in the truck all morning long - all week long talking about it - actually since Daytona in February this has all come about. Doug and the guys have been working really hard in the engine room to come up with a combination for that, but until I guess 1:20 this afternoon we're really all up in the air and not really sure what it's gonna be all about. We didn't test up here. A few people did test and the things that we did here were a lot different. We feel like we've got a good package. I'm really excited about the car that we brought here and, like I said, at 1:20 we'll find out what it's all about."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED
WHAT ONE DEVELOPMENT BROUGHT THIS TEAM TO WHERE IT'S AT TODAY? "I think the day we put Todd Parrott back on the box was the day we became a legitimate contender to run for championships. The experience he has. He's already won a championship with Dale Jarrett. He's the winningest active crew chief in the garage. I want to make him one of the very few crew chiefs that can win a championship with two different drivers. I think the day he brought the experience, I was young and inexperienced and still am. His experience and the way he offsets, I think my youth and enthusiasm kind of works as a pretty good team. He can keep me calmed down and keep me going in the right direction and it's getting better by the week. I think our team is getting stronger and stronger. It's almost where we're getting to the point where we're finishing each other's sentences on adjustments to do with the car. When you're communicating that well between crew chief and driver, I think you've got a pretty strong race team. I think just bringing his experience from day one back in to the whole team and the whole organization has been a big reason why we're back to where we're at right now."
TODD PARROTT CONTINUED
"You take his youth and excitement and my experience with where I came from and the things I've done, I thing we're a great team. We get along great. We get along good away from the race track. We've got a great relationship. We do things together. We go to dinner and hang out and it's a lot of fun. Right now we're running good, but like he said, our team gets better and better each week. Our communication in the last month has really, really gone to another level and I just foresee it getting better each week the rest of the season."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED
WHAT ABOUT NOT SHIFTING THIS WEEK AND WHAT WILL THE RACE BE LIKE? "I think it's gonna be easier on the driver as far as not shifting. I think for a rookie to come here to Pocono the first time and learn how to downshift at 190 miles an hour into turn one is a pretty tough situation, so I think it's gonna be a little easier on the drivers. I think we're gonna have to run the setups a lot looser. We're gonna have to almost set them up like a Busch car because we're gonna be pulling 20 to 30 points less gear now off of turn three and turn one. The guys are gonna have to play a chess match, I think, with each other come Sunday. What line do you want to be in? Do you want to go around the outside to keep your momentum up, or do you want to go around the inside which is the shortest way around? We really don't know until practice comes, but it's definitely offering us some new opportunities. I think you're still gonna see a great race here. I think you're gonna still see a lot of passing. Track position is gonna be very important, but I think it's gonna be a lot different setup than what we've run here in the past because you don't have all that initial motor going right to the rear wheels."
"For the engine, like Todd said, we started thinking about this back after Daytona and, really, I think for the engine you're just gonna have to have power from top to bottom. We've tried to adjust to have more bottom end, but we also need a good top-end engine because these straightaways are very long. So you kind of need an engine like Richmond but also like Indianapolis. It's gonna be interesting. I'm excited to be here. I love racing at Pocono. We've had a lot of success here before, so we'll learn a lot this weekend and, hopefully, we've got the right combination."
TODD PARROTT CONTINUED
WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE WITHOUT MARK MARTIN AND RUSTY WALLACE NEXT YEAR? "It's gonna be different. I worked with Rusty Wallace from 1986 to '95, so I learned a lot from him. I owe a lot of what I learned to him about the chassis stuff and that side of it. He'll be around, but not to have those guys racing - I know Elliott looks up to Mark. Him and Mark are really good friends and they get along really well, so it's gonna be different. But you've got young guys coming up that are gonna take their places, but those guys will not be forgotten."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH DALE JARRETT? "I think when I first started in Nextel Cup racing being part of a single-car team I never really had anybody to go to and compare apples to apples. Dale's been there, done that. He's won races and won a championship. He's a patient driver and a very methodical driver and I think he's teaching that in me. A lot of tracks I go to, maybe I don't know how my car needs to be on Saturday to be good on Sunday. He has that experience and he just kind of teaches that in me. I've never run great at all and at Michigan last year he's preaching to me, 'Make sure your car is doing this on Saturday. Make sure it's this and make sure it's this.' It's little things like that through the race, how to race and stuff like that. I think my give-back to him is maybe doing things a different way. Us younger guys are coming in maybe trying to drive the race track like this instead of like that, so it's a good tradeoff back and forth. I think we're best of friends. I think I'm his biggest fan and I think he's my biggest fan. I'm just as happy when the 88 runs up front as I do the 38 and I think that's the way teamwork should be. It kind of starts with us. We're the quarterbacks of the whole organization and if we work together and then the crew chiefs work together, it kind of all follows suit. If I would have listened to him a little bit better in the chase last year I would have done a little bit better than I did. I just kind of got too antsy. I should have paid more attention to what he was saying, but I learned from that and I've kind of put together what he's been trying to teach me. How to be patient. Who to race and when to race, and I think that's making me a better driver and I'm developing into a better driver because of that."
WOULD YOU BE UPSET IF YOU GOT TO THE CHASE WITHOUT WINNING? "We would love to win a race. We all want to. There are a lot of teams out there that want to win a race, but if for some reason we don't win a race between now and then, I think we've run good enough the first part of the year to be in the chase and be a threat in the chase. I'm not gonna start crying or anything if we don't win a race between now and then. I think we've run good enough to do it - to win races -- and run good enough to be in the chase but it is a big deal because we need to win races. My team deserves to win races. My pit crew deserves to win races. Doug Yates deserves to win races with all the work they do in the engine shop, so it's a lot of pressure right now. I do want to win a race, but I'm not gonna run out here with my tail tucked between my legs if I finish second or third this Sunday. I know my guys came in and we did all we could do. That was the best possible finish we got this weekend and we'll move ahead."
DOUG YATES CONTINUED
WHY ARE WE NOT SHIFTING HERE? "I think a lot of people were asking that same thing. I think when they went to the gear rule last year they just said, 'OK, it would be easier for when we go to Pocono not to shift at all. It'll eliminate one of the variables.' We used to not shift here. I was looking back at some of my notes back to 1992 and I think Alan Kulwicki was one of the first ones to start shifting here and we finished second to him that day with Davey Allison, but it's not really that big of a deal. It's something they decided right up front that the only places we would shift will be the road courses."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 38 AND 88 PERFORMANCES THIS YEAR? "I think, my opinion and I'm kind of looking a little bit from the outside-in although it's my family's business and race team since I do the engine thing, is that the two teams were kind of going in different directions. That's not the way it's supposed to work. I think we were kind of going down different paths and now it seems like we've got that back going in the same direction again."
TODD PARROTT CONTINUED
"That's probably the biggest thing. At the first of the season the 88 car was wanting to try a different package and we were trying more of the stuff we learned last year. We hit on some things at the end of last year and at the end of the season and we stuck by it. We tried some things, but for both deals really to work you've got to work together and I think the last three or four weeks things have been a lot closer and I think the performance has been a lot better. The 88 car ran really good at Charlotte and ran good at Dover until they had a few problems. The biggest thing is that we want, whenever we're having problems, to be able to go over and say they're doing something just a little bit different and be able to go over there and bring something back to us. It's the same with them. If they're off a little bit, they can come to us. We've got the same chassis now, the same body configuration and the rest of it, except for the driver feel."
ELLIOTT SADLER CONTINUED
HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DENT IN THE HENDRICK-ROUSH DOMINATION THIS YEAR? "Those guys have definitely set the mark very high - Hendrick organization and Roush organization. They've got a lot of teams and a lot of information to pull from with four and five teams. That's a lot of data and that's a lot of engineering help and a lot of crew chiefs. You know the old say, 'Two minds are better than one,' and I think that's one reason why we've made some changes to the 88 and 38 here lately as far as getting our stuff closer together. We were acting like two single-car teams and that's tough. We can't run against five Roush guys if we're a single-car team or acting like one, so we've tried to put all of our information in one pot and make our cars as close as we can to try to get a lot more information going and get where we can help each other more. I think that's the only way we're gonna be able to outrun Roush and outrun Hendrick. We know that our engine program is second to none and now it's our job just to go through all the information. We've got great chassis and great bodies, and now it's just the matter of doing it. You only get like a two-hour practice at the race track and now we can kind of feed off each other and make it more like a Roush or Hendrick-run organization. I think the more data we can create between two teams, the better chance we've got of outrunning these guys."