Elliott Sadler to drive for Innovative Motorsports by Shawn A. Akers HARRISBURG, N.C. (Feb. 25, 1999) Elliott Sadler, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will drive the No. 47 Monro Muffler Brake & Service...
Elliott Sadler to drive for Innovative Motorsports by Shawn A. Akers
HARRISBURG, N.C. (Feb. 25, 1999) Elliott Sadler, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will drive the No. 47 Monro Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet for Innovative Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division until regular driver Andy Santerre returns, team sources said Thursday.
Santerre is recovering from broken bones in his right leg suffered in a hard crash in the season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month. He is expected to be out until at least May and possibly early June.
The team approached Sadler -- who drives the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Citgo Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series -- last weekend at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham prior to the running of the ALLTEL 200 about driving for them. A former NASCAR Busch Series championship contender, who has five career NBS victories, Sadler agreed to fill in for Santerre until he returns.
"We needed someone that had experience in this series and at these race tracks," said team spokesman Joe Carver. "We needed someone that knows these cars, these tracks and these drivers. Elliott fit that mold, and he seemed a natural choice. He said he would like to do it, and that he could use the seat time. We're excited about it and we think it's going to be extremely beneficial to both parties."
Sadler never believed he'd get back in a NASCAR Busch Series car so quickly after leaving the series following last season.
"I sure wasn't looking to get in a Busch car so soon again, but I'll tell you, the Santerres are some good folks and I'd love to help them out," Sadler said. "It wasn't a good way for Andy to start his sophomore season like that. I'm going to get in the car and learn some things and I think it will be a big help to me. I don't think it will be any kind of a distraction at all to the Winston Cup effort.
"I told them (the heads at Innovative Motorsports) that we're going to get out there and try to win some races. There's some good race tracks coming up with Las Vegas, Bristol and Nashville. The main thing is just to get that team some car owner points. They haven't started the season too well, so I'm going to see if I can help them out."
Along with Santerre's crash at Daytona, which relegated him to a 42nd place finish, the team also suffered a badly-damaged race car in the ALLTEL 200, when former Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring champion Mike Swaim Jr. couldn't miss a car that had wrecked in front of him and finished 40th. Owner George deBidart's team is currently 46th in NBS owner points, which are critical in case provisional starting positions are needed.
"We had hoped to keep Mike in the car through at least Atlanta, because he has some experience there and he's run well there," Carver said. "But we sat down with the sponsors and talked it out, and what we really needed was someone that has more experience in this division, more experience on these race tracks."
From now until May 23, there's only one NASCAR Busch Series race that is not a companion event with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. That's the BellSouth Mobility 320 at Nashville Speedway USA on April 3, but the NASCAR Winston Cup Series has an "off-date" that weekend, so Sadler will be available to drive the No. 47 Chevrolet.
Sadler has 76 career starts in the NASCAR Busch Series, with 12 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes to his credit. He finished the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series in eighth place in the point standings with two victories -- at Bristol and Rockingham.
"We believe Elliott will mesh in with this team really well. He's already gotten his seat adjusted for the car, and he was here at the shop for the better part of the day the other day," Carver said. "The crew is tickled to death that he's here, and we're very happy that he'll do it. We'd like to thank Mike for his help this past weekend and wish him luck."
Sadler's first race for Innovative Motorsports in the No. 47 Chevrolet will be the NASCAR Busch Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday, March 6. Bud Pole Qualifying to set the full 43-car field is on Friday afternoon. There are currently 68 entries for that event.
Source: NASCAR Online