ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 3rd) "It was a great lap. I was very happy with the changes we made from practice. Todd and the guys did a great job again giving me what I like to have for qualifying and it was a great honor...
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 3rd)
"It was a great lap. I was very happy with the changes we made from practice. Todd and the guys did a great job again giving me what I like to have for qualifying and it was a great honor to qualify that good. I'm looking forward to the race. Joe and I were just admiring the trophy out there. That is an unbelievable trophy. I asked Joe if he was gonna stay after the race and help me load it in my car to get it home (laughing)."
JOE (NEMECHEK): "I think you said you were gonna stay and help me, weren't you?"
ELLIOTT (SADLER): "Well, we haven't figured that out yet. I ran into Joe last week and I want to officially apologize to him for that, but maybe this week we'll help each other with the trophy. We're off to a good start. It was a great qualifying run for my team and I'm really happy for them and myself right now."
IS THIS A CHANCE TO REBOUND FROM YOUR DIFFICULTIES LAST WEEK?
"Yes, but I do have to touch on that. Last Sunday, I think Larry McReynolds said it best today, was the biggest wake-up call I think I've ever had in my lifetime - how bad we actually thought our day was that we had as a race team was not even in comparison to the way I felt after the race when I think we all got the news. I called my mom and dad right then after the race. We didn't talk about how I ran or what happened, I just wanted to tell them that I love them. He said it best - to spend as much time as you can with people that you love and you love being around, but don't take anything for granted because sometimes we do that through traveling and things. We do want to rebound as a team, but it has been such a hard, hard week on everybody that I think just to get back to the race track is great medicine for a lot of us that have had a tough, tough week. So it's good to be back here at the race track."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR FEELINGS DURING TODAY'S PRESS CONFERENCE?
"I was sitting in the bus watching it today and just admired those guys - the drivers and the crew chiefs - that were able to sit up there and answer questions and do what they did today is unbelievably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to sit and watch. My whole insides were pretty much torn up and just balling at each emotion they were showing. I felt like I was sharing it with them because, like Joe said, we're all such great friends and we all try to take care of one another as best we can. We're all great competitors, yes, on Sundays, but we're all a big, big family during the week and seven days a week and we all want to do what we can for each other. It was tough watching that. I admire those guys a lot for doing what they were doing today in such a tough situation. A lot of guys, it's hard to answer questions. You don't know if you want to open up or not. There are a lot of moments to be shared and you don't really know if you know how to share them the correct way, so I really admire those guys for what they were doing today. So I just mentioned that tonight on the radio. I admired what they did a great deal."
CAN YOU ANALYZE THE CHASE RIGHT NOW?
"I think the 24 and the 8 can realistically still have a chance to catch Kurt. Kurt and the guys are doing a great job. I mean, he's finishing races and he's running every lap. He's coming back from adversity that has happened during the race and he's done a great job. I'm a realistic person. I'm a pessimistic person most of the time more than optimistic. I know that last week probably put a great big dent in our chances for winning the championship, but we still have four great chances to win races and that's why we came here this weekend to the race. I just left the truck sitting in the front with Doug and Robert Yates and Doug reminded me again today that the Yates team had never won a race at Atlanta under this new configuration of the track and that's what we came here to do this weekend. It was so funny. He told Robert to don't even come over there Sunday morning and ask what gear we've got in the car, don't ask what timing is in the car. He don't want to know that we came here to win the race this weekend. That's what we feel like we need to do to have any chance at all to get back in this championship. We know that's a big climb for us. We would love to finish in the top five, that's a goal of ours, and we'd really like to try to win another race before the season is over with. That would be a great goal, I think, for our whole race team."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FRIDAYS BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT?
"I noticed that today, you've seen the last few months, that 15-20 cars are doing race runs on Friday, whereas today there might have been one or two. Everybody knows how important it is now to make the race. We're getting near the end of this season and people are starting to look to the future for next year - car owners and drivers. They're trying to put some certain drivers and teams in certain situations to come to the track and see if they can have success to get off to a good start. You don't want to be testing next year at the Daytona 500, you kind of do it at the end of this season - get teams familiar with each other, drivers and crew members familiar, so I think that's why you've seen the car count up the last half of the season. Everybody is getting ready for next year is what I think, my opinion."
COULD YOU DO YOUR JOB WITHOUT PRIVATE AIR TRAVEL?
"No, I would think not. It's a necessity. We don't fly in private airplanes because it's luxury, look at the cost of it, it's just a necessity. I was in three different states this week. That's just part of the appearance schedule that we have. We've got great, great sponsors that are part of this sport and they want a little piece of your time and then you've also got to do the right amount of testing to keep your team competitive and we have to have this. I don't see how a lot of guys that are married and have kids and try to raise a family at home and travel and test, there's a lot of stuff going on that private airplanes really help with and it's a big part of our day - why we're here and do the things that we need to do. Everybody wants to spend as much time as they can at home with their loved ones and I think that's a big part of it. We would not be able to do half of what we do without that. I can't see that diminishing any in the future. It's probably gonna get even more demanding as our sport grows."
BEING IN THE CHASE, ARE YOU AT A DISADVANTAGE FOR THE START OF NEXT YEAR?
"No, we are focused right now, but my crew chief is doing a great job. We're doing some testing in Kentucky and some things like that. We're going to test Homestead in a couple weeks with the car we're gonna race Homestead with and a 2005 car. We're gonna run them back-to-back and see what the difference is so we kind of get some notes going. So, yes, we are in the chase and every point counts, but you can't never stop preparing. We've got some great sponsors at Robert Yates Racing that enabled us to go out and get us a great group of engineers and people that have gotten our test cars ready to go for next year. They've done a lot of simulation programs and we've been in the windtunnel non-stop in the last few months because we're getting cars stripped and re-done and ready to go for next year for the first couple of races, so, yes, we are focused, but I think a great race team is able to balance what's going on now week to week and day to day stuff in 2004 and also be able to prepare for next year. You don't want to go to Daytona for testing and not have an idea of what's gonna happen with the new bodies and stuff. You've got to know. All the rest of the top 10 teams are gonna do that - top 20 teams now - and we've got to stay in step with them. So when we go to Homestead it's my first test with the 2005 configuration - with the body and the spoiler and things - and I'm looking forward to running it against the car we think we're gonna race at Homestead with, so I'm looking forward to making that comparison and see what happens."