Dodge Teleconference Transcript with Elliott Sadler Tuesday, April 24,2007 ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) OPENING REMARKS -- "We ran pretty well at Daytona in February and we ran very well at Talladega in the 19...
Dodge Teleconference Transcript with Elliott Sadler
Tuesday, April 24,2007
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
OPENING REMARKS -- "We ran pretty well at Daytona in February and we ran very well at Talladega in the 19 last fall. Actually I'm looking forward to going to Talladega. We think it's a place where we can gain some momentum. We know we're going to run very well in the draft. We need to gain some spots and get some points and honestly I can't think of a better place to go right now. It's a great place for the 19 team to be going.
"Talladega is not my favorite track, but I do understand momentum and the effect it has on the race team and in this sport and the car we're taking to Talladega is one we led some laps in last year and ran in the top five with until we had a flat tire and we finished sixth with it in the (2007) Daytona 500. Even though it's not my favorite place to go and it's not my favorite kind of racing, it's a place I think we can go run well at. We just seem to have the restrictor-plate stuff down pat. Kasey finishing second there last year, we think we're going to be OK. I think it's a place we can go and get things turned around, so that's why I'm looking forward to it."
DESCRIBE YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH AUTISM "My family has been very strong in the Autism Society of American and Autism Awareness for the past five or six years. It is Autism Awareness Month this month, and we decided to paint up a special helmet with a special paint scheme on it to symbolize the Autism puzzle, and we've worn it in every race this month. We're going to auction if off at the end of the month, actually on my (32nd) birthday, the Monday after the Talladega race and the money and all the proceeds from that will go to the Autism Society of America. It's just something we thought we'd do to help for the month of April."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE SENSATION YOU FEEL WHEN YOUR CAR WENT INTO THE AIR AT TALLADEGA? "The sensation I'd say is pretty eerie because it goes so quiet. We're used to motor noises and sometimes when you spin out the screeching noises a tire has rubbing across the asphalt, but when you go up in the air it's dead silence. The motor cuts off and you're flying through the air and there's no screeching of the tires. Everything gets kind of dark when you start flipping like that. It's a pretty scary feeling. You feel like if you're a racecar driver spinning out you can do different things in the car to kind of control which side of the car you're going to hit on, kind of manipulate it a little bit, but when you're up in the air and kind of flipping you're really just a passenger. It's pretty scary. It's a lot worse than hitting the wall. I'd lots rather keep my stuff on the ground and leave it like that."
DOES THE CAR GIVE YOU A SIGNAL IF IT'S ABOUT TO GO AIRBORNE? "No, it just pretty much takes off. That's not good. You don't know what to do to prepare for it. When you hit a wall, you hit it once really hard. At a place like Dover you might bounce off the outside wall and hit the inside wall. You might hit it twice hard. When you're flipping, when I flipped at Talladega in 2003, I hit six or seven times really hard. Hit fell over 20 G's each hit and by the end of it you're pretty much beat up and out of breath. You feel like you're been in a boxing match. It's a lot tougher wreck than just staying on the ground."
DID YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN THE PLATE SIZE LAST YEAR AT TALLADEGA AFTER THE ABRUPT CHANGE? "The only big difference was when we went to the smaller plate was the throttle response was not there. It's not that much of a big difference. Talladega with this new asphalt it's got so much grip, you're not going to be lifting anyway, so we can change plates all day long down there. It's really not going to change the handling of the car right now. We're all going to be packed up together. We're all going to be three-wide Sunday for four hours. It's just the way this race track is and it's just the way restrictor-plate racing is. There's nothing we can really do about it. NASCAR is just going to try to keep us under that 200 mph window to help try to keep us on the ground and keep us out of the grandstands. Whatever they have to do restrictor-plate wise they're going to do it, but I doubt it's going to change the effect of the race. The same guys are still going to know how to draft and have fast race cars and run up front no matter what size plates they have on them."
HOW HAS CHEVROLET WON SO MANY RACES AT TALLADEGA? "I don't know. That's a great question. Chevrolet has always been pretty good at restrictor-plate racing, very good in the draft. The only thing I can really tell the difference is when you tape all the cars up it doesn't matter what the manufacturer is. They're all going to run as fast as the motor and the body is. We have different people sitting on the pole and stuff. We have Fords sometimes and sometimes Chevy and sometimes Dodges. It kind of spread out through the field, but it seems like when we untape and get in race conditions Chevys still pull up a lot easier and can push you faster than some of the other manufacturers. I don't know why that is. I don't know if they've got their nose figured out a little bit better as far as getting air to the cowl or what. They definitely have dominated the restrictor-plate races here lately. It's not from lack of effort on our side. I know how many hours our team puts into it to try to make our team better. Hopefully we've found something this weekend that can kind of put us in that same position where we can go for the win on Sunday. I don't know. I wish I had an answer for you, but I just don't know. They've got a lot of good race teams, too, that work on their restrictor-plate programs very hard. That could be a lot to do with it. I don't think it's the manufacturer's stuff. I think Dodge gives us the right tools to make it work. It's just our job to put the effort into it and make it work, so we'll see. Kasey got close last year. I know Kurt Busch has been close many times at Talladega to try to win races. Ryan Newman was very close at the Daytona 500 last year. We know we have a tool that can do it. We've just got to go out there and put it together."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A DRIVER TO WIN A RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACE? "I think it's very important. Ray (Evernham) puts that very high up on the list. He wants a plate win very badly. He has a lot of intermediate wins and short tracks wins and stuff like that, but he mentions a restrictor-plate win and a championship very often. We're going to Talladega loaded for bear with our best stuff. We're going to try to come in here and win this race and run up front and see what happens."
IS THERE ANY SCIENCE TO MAINTAINING CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM? "I just think you've got to like who you're around. I think you've got to believe in your race team. Like right now, Evernham Motorsports has not gotten off to a start it would have liked to gotten off to compared to last year, but I believe in my guys and that's why we're not panicking. We believe we've got some guys who can fix it. We've just got to get in the right areas and find what we're missing and work on it. I could be sitting here today and panicking because we don't know what to do. It's a difference between struggling and not knowing how to fix it and struggling and got an idea on which direction you need to go to fix it. I feel like at Evernham's we've got a direction to go to make our teams better, not only on the COTs, but also on the intermediate stuff. I think driver confidence has a lot to do with do you believe in your guys or not? Some guys don't believe in the guys they have and some do. That's the difference in the confidence level. I believe in my race team. I'm not panicking right now. I know we haven't gotten off to a great start, but I believe we can make a run for The Chase. You want to win together. I really want to win with this race team. All drivers want to win with their race teams so they can say they can do it. You can pat each other on the back every day and say 'we think we can win together," but until you actually do it together, not that you don't believe in them, you want to have that known fact that 'hey guys, we can win together. We can beat 42 of the best race teams in the world." That's a good confidence booster, not only for me but for them. If you can make that day come and make that day happen, but it's hard to come by. There are so many great teams out there and if you're not perfect and have a great, perfect day for four hours, you're not going to be a winner of that race."
COMMENT ON THE FEELING OF "ALWAYS IMPENDING DOOM" AT TALLADEGA "That's what's always so tough about Talladega. That's a great question because where does a driver draw the line about being aggressive or being so aggressive you cold start the 20-car pileup. Each driver has a different mentality going into Talladega where we're going to ride in line and we're going to behave until we get to the last quarter of the race or we need to get to the front as soon as we can and keep the wreck behind me or we're just going to ride in the back and let the guys fight in the front and let them wreck and then we'll go to the front. Each driver has a different strategy, a different mentality and it's tough racing like that. As a driver, I don't know what my plan or mentality or strategy will be until I get down there and see how my car is. If my car is really, really fast and I think it can run in the top five all day, I'm going to try to do that to try to keep the wreck behind me. If my car is decent and maybe doesn't handle as well, whatever, I'm not going to get in the middle too many times. I might stay on the bottom or stay on the outside and just behave for half of the race until we get down to the final pit stop. Each driver has an agenda of winning or getting a good top-five finish out of Talladega, but each driver doesn't really know until he starts the race Sunday how he wants to do that."
DO YOU THINK THE COT WILL HAVE A PLATE AT THE SECOND TALLADEGA RACE? "We're definitely going to have a restrictor-plate on the COT when we race it at Talladega. Do I know how big yet? No, we don't know. I am doing the tire test in June for Goodyear, which will also probably be a gear test rule and also a restrictor-plate test rule while we're there just so we'll know before we get back for the race. It's hard to say right now how big the restrictor-plate will be, but there will definitely be a restrictor-plate involved. These teams are too good and the cars will be going too fast if we go down there unrestricted."
COMMENT ON POINTS LEADERS "My honest opinion is there are four or five race teams that have set themselves away from the pack, away from everybody else. You look at the 24, 48 and 5, you've got to look at the 11, 20 and 17 (six of the top seven drivers in standings) I would say those six teams really, I know some of them have had bad luck or good luck of what have you, those six teams I think have set themselves away from the rest of the field. I think the next six spots, as far as The Chase is concerned, the split is not that much difference from seventh to back to 20th probably. I think those front guys have really hit on something. They've got it really figured out whether we're racing the COT or racing the car of last year. Everybody else is hit or miss. One week they'll hit it and one week they won't. That's why it keeps being a lot of flip-flopping from 10th back to 20th in points."
-credit: dodge motorsports