ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) OPENING REMARKS "I've got a pretty good outlook for 2007, but before I start with that I want to send out my gratitude and everything to the Parsons family. We've lost a great person, ...
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
OPENING REMARKS "I've got a pretty good outlook for 2007, but before I start with that I want to send out my gratitude and everything to the Parsons family. We've lost a great person, a great friend in Benny Parsons. That's hard to swallow. I met Benny when I was 12 years old and actually had Thanksgiving dinner with him when I was 12 years old. I thought that was pretty cool. To lose him not as a race car driver or analyst or announcer or anything like that, but to lose him as a friend has been tough.
"To get back to our season, I'm looking forward to the 2007 season. Last year was a very tough season on me mentally and physically. It was pretty hard to swallow the way we ran each and every weekend. This is tough sport. When you're down it seems like everybody keeps you down. It's a tough deal. I'm with a great team. I'm very happy with Ray and everybody at Evernham Motorsports. I've got two great teammates that I think I can feed off of. I'm looking forward to good things. We're very optimistic about our chances on mile and a half racetracks. We think we've got a very strong program. We're ahead of the learning curve with the car of tomorrow. I think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year. I'd like to get back to be a contender in The Chase, and I think I have the ability to do that and I think my team does. Kasey Kahne showed we have a lot of great tools last year at Evernham Motorsports with the amount of wins and poles and stuff he had. I think if we work on it and keep our nose down we can do the same thing this year."
COMMENT ON HOW EVERNHAM IS SPENDING FOR THE FUTURE "It's hard to elaborate on certain things we're trying to spend money on, but it's like this coil binding thing that snuck up on a couple of people at NASCAR the past few years. They were ahead of the game on that and they foresee other things coming in racing to make cars competitive. They understand and they've got a vision on which way they think this sport is going as far as front end geometry, front suspension, aerodynamic, things like that that are going to make these cars run fast. I don't think anything is going to sneak up on us at Evernham's that's going to catch us off guard. They have people in place always looking toward the future, not even worrying about what we're doing right now but what we should be doing six months down the road, what we should be doing next year for the Daytona 500, things like that. That's what I meant and I stand by it. He has made the extra effort and energy and money to make sure Evernham stays ahead of the learning curve and having people in place. If you only have so many people working in your shop everybody can't look toward the future. You've got to worry about what's going on now, week to week, but if you don't mind spending the money on having enough people and enough resources in your shop where you can take a group of four or five guys and all they're worried about is six months down the road where the car of tomorrow is going to be, I think that's going to make your company a little bit stronger."
COMMENT ON HOW YOU HAD THANKSGIVING DINNER WITH BENNY PARSONS "My brother went to the University of North Carolina and when he was a freshman there his suitemate was Keith Parsons, Benny's son. At the time we were race fans and all and we knew of Keith, but we really didn't put two and two together until he invited us all over to meet his dad. I was always a race fan growing up, buying tickets and going to see people race all the time. I definitely knew who Benny Parsons was, so when we met him when my brother was a freshman at the University of North Carolina they invited us to Thanksgiving dinner at Benny's house and that was a treat for me being 12 years old getting to go to his house because Hermie and Keith were suitemates in college. Spending the day with him and seeing his trophies and seeing his accomplishments in racing at his house was amazing to a 12-year-old kid. That's pretty cool. We even played Pictionary after that, which I thought was awesome. That's something I'll always remember. It's just weird how certain things are etched in your mind as you go through life and the experiences you have. That's one day I'll always remember as a kid, going to his house and eating dinner and playing Pictionary. He was the same then as he was the last time I saw him at the racetrack. He was generally a great, great guy. Whether you were the driver of the 24 car or a driver of a team that was just here for a day-to-day basis and didn't know what your future was. He really didn't put a value on what you did in the sport but what kind of person you were. He was a good leader for a lot of us, but that was a cool day in history for me."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger)
OPENING REMARKS "Testing is always different from racing, but you can learn from it, and I think we're stronger now than we were at this time last year with our Alltel Dodge. That same car got us to third place in the Daytona 500 last year, so I think we've made some gains in the off season. We've got a new nose and a new tail, and I'm sure it will be better for us for the entire season, and I look forward to that change as well. Testing is a little on the boring side, but it's a good experience for the team and a good experience for me working with the team and Michael Nelson as the new crew chief. For the other new guys on the team it's important to create that chemistry right off the bat and get a good start on the season."
COMMENT ON THE COT TEST AT PHOENIX "I thought the Goodyear tire test was good. I think the car of tomorrow is going to bring some new challenges to Goodyear that they're ready and waiting for. I think those challenges are the car has a little bit less downforce and we're still making the same amount of horsepower so they have a little bit different challenge of making the tires live and hooking the tires up to the racetrack. I think they made some good changes with the alternate compounds they brought to the test. We spent most of our time at the test working with the load cells they have and doing that you don't get a chance to test all the alternate tires and compounds they have to offer. At the end of the day we were part of their analysis with the best three scenarios. Hopefully we helped them make the right decision, but it's still their ultimate decision."
COMMENT ON BEING FASTEST IN PRACTICE TUESDAY AFTERNOON "I haven't looked at the time sheet all day, whether it was qualifying practice or race practice, but I think that it's just an opportunity to build on. It's a good thing. It shows we're capable of doing that. Of course we only did it by a thousandth of a second, but I'll take that. It's just another opportunity to come down here and show what you've got. We're not hiding anything. We're doing what we have to do to make the car go faster. I feel the Alltel Dodge is better now in testing than it was last year in testing. If that was good enough for a third-place finish (in 2006 Daytona 500), hopefully it's good enough for a first-place finish in the 500."
COMMENT ON SHARING INFORMATION AT TESTING "At the Memphis test with the car of tomorrow, it was the first time we'd ever switched drivers in cars. I'd driven Rusty's cars before, but he had never driven mine. It was a great opportunity to get an understanding of our language and our definitions of loose and tight and things like that. When Kurt feels like he's happy with his car and it's a little bit loose and that's drivable for me. It was a great test. It's opened my eyes in this off-season's testing to what we could have done better and what we are doing better. That's information sharing
with a great relationship between Michael Nelson and Roy McCauley and the race engineers as well. That's something I really look forward to as far as the entire two teams working together."
COMMENT ON BENNY PARSONS "Benny and I never went out and had dinner, but he did come out to our property when we had cookouts sometimes. He brought his wife and his dog and we got to hang out. I considered him a good friend, and I think he was a great person. Obviously he's done a lot for the sport, and I've said before he's more than just a Cup champion. He's a champion in many ways and a great family man. I'm going to miss him for sure. I'm sure there will be many tributes and ways to remember him, but seeing his face on TV was one of the best."
COMMENT ON YOUR FIRST LAPS AT DAYTONA "I remember my first test at Daytona was in an ARCA car. It was 2001 because that's when we won the race. It was my first race at Daytona and it was a great team at the time. It's a neat track. When you're first out there by yourself you think it's easy and then you get about 20 cars around you and they're all going for the same spot it's a little bit difficult and a little bit tough. The track has so much character and historical significance. It's definitely a great place to race."
COMMENT ON THE SHOOTOUT "I think the Shootout is more of an indication of what to expect of the racecars and the tires and how things are going to play out. We've got a different situation this year with the 17-gallon fuel cell. Who's going to have the fuel mileage and who doesn't, things like that. It will be more of an eye-opener rather than who's going to be the guy to beat at Daytona in the 500."
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A GOOD SHOT AT WINNING LAST YEAR'S DAYTONA 500 WITH A FEW LAPS TO GO? "I know I had a great shot at winning it. I hadn't been in that position many times before if any to try to win a restrictor-plate race from second place with a couple of laps to go. I thought I did everything right with the exception of Casey (Mears) going with Jimmie (Johnson) instead of me. That's just racing. You can't predict that. You can hope for it, but you can't predict it. If I had to do it all over again, I'd still go for the win. I wouldn't sit there and ride in second."
THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON "I think we'll definitely be a stronger team than last year. We've tested a lot during the offseason, and I think we've made some good changes with the racecars. Our biggest problem last year was the racecars weren't fast enough. When the racecars go faster it makes everybody happy. Hopefully all that stuff will work out."
-credit: dodge motorsports