MONRO /Sadler Struggled to Overcome Strange Engine Setbacks Harrisburg, North Carolina (March 21, 1999)- Elliott Sadler, interim driver of the 47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, and the IMI team...
MONRO /Sadler Struggled to Overcome Strange Engine Setbacks
Harrisburg, North Carolina (March 21, 1999)- Elliott Sadler, interim driver of the 47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, and the IMI team struggled through the race with engine problems to finish a disappointing 35th in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina on Saturday, March 20, 1999.
Sadler, who is filling in for the injured Andy Santerre, headed to Darlington with positive thoughts. The 1999 Winston Cup Rookie contender has had past success at Darlington and is one of the few drivers on the series that actually looks forward to racing there.
The #47 was decent during the practice sessions and felt they would have a top-15 Qualifying run. However, they were a little soft and bottomed out so bad that they destroyed the exhaust on the underneath of the car.
"We had bottomed out a little during the first practice," Sadler, a five-time Busch Series winner, explained. "But we worked hard and thought we had the problem fixed. When we did a simulated time trial run during the last practice we didn't bottom out so we thought we were all right."
The time clocked by Sadler in the MONRO racing Chevrolet was enough to get him in the field, starting 34th.
However, for the second week in a row, the team had motor problems during happy hour. The motor didn't blow up, but a routine inspection found a problem and the motor had to be changed.
The crew was unable to get the motor switch done by the end of happy hour and they had to start the race praying that everything was right.
At the start of the race, Sadler picked up a lot of positions. He started 34th and by the second lap was up to 24th. He was in 20th place when he radioed in to say he lost a cylinder. The more he drove, the flatter the motor got. After a brush with the outside retaining wall at lap 34 and a flat tire, he was forced to pit.
Unfortunately, the needed caution came out while we in the pits and we lost another lap.
"The motor was fine," said crew chief, Mike Greci "We just had three spark plug wires come off the motor. I've never had anything like that happen before. We put them back on, changed tires, went out and were as fast as the leaders."
Sadler was three laps down at that point and coming on strong when 20 laps later he radioed in again and said the motor was sputtering. Luck was finally on our side as a caution came out and we pitted again. The carburetor float got stuck and gas wasn't flowing thorough the carburetor as it should. The crew fixed the problem and we went back out and as fast as the leaders.
"The car was fine after we got the engine situation fixed," Sadler commented. "We past the leaders under green and got a lap back, but by then were so far down in the running order that we couldn't gain much ground."
The team crossed the finish line 35th and five laps down. Next weekend they will be at Texas Motor Speedway for the Coca Cola 300. 65 cars are expected to attempt to make the race, 22 are Winston Cup regulars.