Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Busch Series, spoke about the recent changes at Robert Yates Racing and his future with the ...
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Busch Series, spoke about the recent changes at Robert Yates Racing and his future with the company.
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion
WE DIDN'T THINK YOU WERE GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BUSCH CAR? "We sat down as a company this week, Robert and I and Doug, and figured out what's the best way or the best possibility of getting the 38 in contention in the Nextel Cup Series -- back into trying to run in the top 10 and back into trying to make the chase. One way of doing that is to get practice in the Busch car. What we've tried to do this week is set our Busch cars up just like our Cup cars and now we've got Raymond Fox going back and forth between the two teams keeping good notes -- something we were not doing before -- and if that takes putting me back in the Busch car and running more races and kind of putting our development program, not on hold but just slowing it down a little bit, then that's what we need to do because the bread and butter right now at Robert Yates Racing is getting those two Cup teams competitive. As a driver, I want to get more top 10s. As an owner, Robert Yates wants to get more top 10s, so that's why we decided this week and had some major changes in the shop. We just want to be more competitive. We want to be more competitive when we show up at the race track, and I think we're looking at this as maybe a way to make that happen is getting back in the Busch car and running more laps, but using it more as a sister car to my 38 cars than just a Busch car that we're not using any notes off of.
WILL RAYMOND BE ON THE PIT BOX FOR CUP RACES? "Raymond will be on the pit box for the Cup races and helping Tommy some. Raymond has been a part of my crew now for three or three-and-a-half years, so he understands my language a lot and what I'm asking for, and he's gonna really try to go back and forth and help both teams a lot. Raymond has been a part of this company a long time and knows it better than anyone, so we're kind of putting him in a bigger role to try to help our Cup program."
THERE WAS TALK LAST WEEK THAT TOMMY WAS OUT. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? "I did not hear that. Somebody came and asked me that when I walked in the garage last week and I have no idea where that came from. That hasn't even been an issue. There hasn't been any talk, so I'm not sure where that came from.
FROM THE OUTSIDE IT APPEARS THINGS ARE CHAOTIC AT RYR. WHAT'S IT LIKE ON THE INSIDE? "I don't think it's chaotic, we're all working really, really hard and trying to make progress. We've stumbled a couple times here in the last few weeks and haven't run as good as we'd like, so we're making changes and race teams do that. I love driving for Robert Yates because he's not afraid to make changes. I don't think there's a lot of chaos going on from the inside, I think we're just switching some people around and putting them in different positions and trying to make the organization a little bit better, so we're kind of putting everybody in their strong points. Being that I've worked with Raymond for three-and-a-half years and putting him back on the box to help Tommy and kind of work back and forth to maybe give us some better communication than what we've been having.
WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THE LOSS OF EDDIE D'HONDT? "I think that's tough. I think Eddie was a great general manager and I think he did a great job for Robert Yates Racing, and I think he's a great spotter for Dale, and he was really spearheading this development program for the Busch Series. I just think when things are going tough and you're not running as well as you would like, the owners of the company probably want to put it more back in their hands and make some decisions on their own. You've got to understand that. It's Robert Yates Racing on the side of the building and he wants to run good. He's a very competitive man, so I think he just kind of wants to get back and get back in the middle of everything and get back to making decisions and being part of a great day-to-day program, so I just think that's where that shake up came from. I enjoyed working with Eddie when he was here and would give him a great recommendation to anybody who would like to hire him."
YOUR NAME KEEPS COMING UP IN THE RUMOR MILL AND THAT YOU'RE UNHAPPY. WHERE DOES THAT STAND? "I'm not unhappy, I'm just frustrated with the way we've been running. That is two different scenarios. There's a difference in being unhappy and being frustrated. I'm frustrated just because I want to run good. I'm a very competitive person. I feel like we've got a top 10 team. I feel like our sponsors deserve to run in the top 10, so I'm frustrated with not giving it to them. As far as working with Tommy and working with the guys, I've got a great bunch of guys around me. I love them a lot. I love working with them and want to continue to do so. I've been reading stuff about 'contract this and contract that' and I haven't even looked at my contract. I don't think that's important. Yes, I do have an out if I want an out, but who cares? I want to get this team running. My responsibility is to put that 38 car up front each and every week and I understand, I'm a grown man, I understand that if I don't run good right now, we're gonna have a hard time getting a good driver to come over to Robert Yates Racing. I've got to pretty much put this company on my shoulders, go out and run good each and every week, and make us look very competitive. We're gonna do more testing. I'm gonna run more Busch races. I'm gonna be in a race car as much as I can in the next couple of months until we get this stuff figured out.
ARE OTHER PEOPLE TALKING TO YOU? "I have not gotten any offers from anybody. You all make sure you write this down and give it to everybody. No team has offered me any contract, any money, any situation at all. I can look at every one of you with a straight face and tell you that.
WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO DECIDE IF YOU'VE GOT AN OUT? "I don't know. Like I said, I haven't really looked at it. It's not important to me. Robert gave me a job a couple of years ago when I needed one and I have given him my promise that we're gonna work our butts off the next couple months to try to get this race team back to where it needs to be.
HOW MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH THE TRACK AND THE TIRE HERE? "The track is tough. I'm sure you all have cameras and can pick up all the wrecks that are in here. This tire is so, so hard and when there's no rubber down on the track it makes it very, very slick, so a lot of guys are probably just trying to go too fast and caused some wrecks. I think once some rubber gets down it will be better. I hope we don't get any rain the rest of the weekend and we should be OK.
WILL RACING AT NIGHT AND COOLER TEMPS HELP? "I think it will. We need more rubber down. Track position is gonna be very important. It has nothing to do with Lowe's Motor Speedway. We've seen this the last five years. Every time we go to a new race track or a place that has a new surface, it's more of a one-groove race track than a two-groove race track. There's more of a track position importance than not a track position importance. It has nothing to do with this race track, I just think it's the element of having new asphalt.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF DALE JARRETT AS A DRIVER? "I think the world of Dale Jarrett. One, he's a great, great friend of mine. I wish him well. I think he's a great driver. He understands the race car very well. He doesn't tear up a lot of equipment. He's very consistent and I think he's a good driver. I can still see the fire in eyes. I still see it when he's happy and when he's unhappy. No matter what his age or whatever is going on he's a great competitor. I'm happy for him in the decision he made as a friend. I'm disappointed that I've lost a great teammate like that. It's gonna be very hard to replace him, but I wish him well.
SO YOUR PLAN IS TO COME BACK NEXT YEAR? "I do. I plan to come back. I think it's my duty. I love my sponsor. They take care of me very well. I've loved working with Robert and Doug and they have pretty much taken the company back in their arms and in their control and they want to make things happen. They don't like running the way we've been running. We've got a bunch of great guys over there and they are working their butts off. We've just had a frustrating couple of months, but it's not from a lack of effort and not from a lack of hard work. We've got a lot of testing to do. We've got a lot of stuff we've got to find out. We've been in Nashville all week. We've got to go back to Nashville next week. We're gonna continue to test each and every week until we get this stuff figured out and that's pretty much the promise we've all made each other."
SO DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE THE LEAD DOG IN THIS ORGANIZATION NOW? "I know that I'm the man at Robert Yates Racing and I have a lot of mouths to feed. That's what I'm looking at each and every time I get in the race car. I've got to run good each and every weekend because I know my guys back in the shop are working their butts off and trying as hard as they can to make things happen. I've got to be a good race car driver. I've got to be a smart race car driver and I've got to put it on my shoulders. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think it's gonna be fun. Tommy and I, it's on his shoulders too. We know we've got to go out and run good each and every weekend and we think we can.
WILL YOU GET MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT? "It's never been an issue of getting what we want, now we just feel our backs are to the wall. We need to run good. If it takes where we've got to cut a car up and work on it all night long and burn the midnight oil, then that's something we've got to do. That's what we did to get my Cup car ready for here today. The guys worked on it for the last 36 hours straight because it's not the same car we thought we were bringing. This is a lot more competitive car than what we thought we had, so that's the effort my guys are putting into it and we'll see what the results show this weekend.
HOW MUCH URGENCY DO YOU FEEL TO GET IN THE CHASE? "I feel urgent now because I think the guys in front of me racing for the chase are not gonna slip. Those guys are gonna get top 15 finishes. We need to get top 10 finishes, top 12 finishes. If we could average a top 12 finish the next 15 races, we will make the chase. We know that as a team and that's what we're gonna try to do, but we need to start here now. We run very well at Charlotte and have in the past, so this is a place we can get our company and our situation turned around in a hurry, and it only takes one race to change things. Greg Biffle is a perfect example. He's been running great all year long with terrible luck. He goes to Richmond and pretty much has a great race and the next thing you know he wins the next week out. It doesn't take but one race in this sport to get things turned around going in the right direction and right now the next-best opportunity to do that is the next race on the schedule and that's here in the Coca-Cola 600.
ARE YOU PUTTING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF? "I don't think so. I want to run good, too. I came over here to run good and finish in the top 10 in points. That's the reason I made the move from where I was to come here and I want to make that happen the best way I can and put all my effort into it and go from there."