Rockingham: Elliott Sadler race report

Sadler bounces back twice at the Rock. ROCKINGHAM, NC (February 23, 2003) --In his career best qualifying effort to date, Elliott Sadler started the "M&M's" Ford in the 11th position. He was right behind teammate Dale Jarrett on the starting...

Sadler bounces back twice at the Rock.

ROCKINGHAM, NC (February 23, 2003) --In his career best qualifying effort to date, Elliott Sadler started the "M&M's" Ford in the 11th position. He was right behind teammate Dale Jarrett on the starting grid for the Subway 400.

Since rain canceled both Cup practice sessions Saturday, NASCAR called for a mandatory caution early in today's race at Rockingham so teams could pit, check tire wear and make handling adjustments. Sadler and the "M&M's" team had an advantage on the rest of the field because they tested at the North Carolina Speedway earlier this month.

The "M&M's" Ford was strong from the drop of the green flag as Sadler moved up into fourth position. The water and oil temperature were slowly creeping up as the race wore on. Contact with teammate Dale Jarrett damaged the grill on the No. 38 car and Sadler had to pit for repairs.

He restarted the race at lap 48 in the 39th position. Sadler passed every car on the track and battled back to the 7th place position. His car was as fast or faster than the lead cars. Crew chief Raymond Fox told Elliott to be patient and save his car for the end of the race. North Carolina Speedway is a track that is notorious for its abrasive surface, and tire wear is always an issue.

Elliott moved back into contention when he was penalized by NASCAR for a loose tire on a pit stop on lap 291. Sadler had to drop from the 7th place position to the 27th place- the tail end of the longest line on the track.

Sadler was down, but not out as he wheeled the "M&M's" Ford back up to the 15th place position with 15 laps remaining. In the closing laps, Elliott moved up to finish ninth behind race winner and teammate Dale Jarrett.

"I had an awesome racecar," said Sadler. "Its hard to believe we came from behind twice and still got a top-10 out of it. My car was a lot better on longer runs. Most of the day we were tight and then the car got loose. Loose is fast though and I am really starting to like that. We had a great test here and our shocks and springs were the right ones for this type of track. I'm proud of my guys because no one gave up and we came out with a great finish. I'm real happy to see my teammate DJ win. Those boys deserve it. I can't wait for Vegas and Atlanta."

Sadler and the "M&M's" team are now 14th in the point standings, 113 shy of the lead.

"I think we have a good year ahead of us," concluded Sadler.

The team will test at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week before heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the UAW/GM Damiler/Chrysler 400 on March 2, 2003.

-ryr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Elliott Sadler