This Week in Ford Racing May 25, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, goes into this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 in 10th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Sadler, who has been in the...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 25, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, goes into this weekend's Coca-Cola 600 in 10th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Sadler, who has been in the top 10 every week, spoke about the challenges he and his fellow competitors face in the season's longest race of the year.
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON TO DATE?
"We've been running really good every week. We've had some little mistakes here and there that have kind of cost us some top-10 finishes, but to be 10th in the points and only about 70 out of fifth, we're right where we want to be. Dover is halfway. If we can stay in the top 10 at the halfway mark, we've got a lot of good tracks coming up after that. We're just trying to be consistent, be smart and get all the points we can. That's the attitude we've had. The win at Texas was great for my race team and great for me personally. Hopefully, that will be able to happen again real soon."
DALE JARRETT SAID THAT HE FELT THIS WAS THE MOST PHYSICALLY DEMANDING RACE ALL SEASON. DO YOU AGREE?
"I would. When you have to make 400 laps around this race track, that's a long time. And when you have to drive a car on the edge as much as we do and as fast as we do, that leaves open the chance for a lot of things that can go wrong. You can enter the corner too fast or too high or too low. You can hit the apron. A lot of things can go wrong in 400 laps, so it's very physically demanding and very mentally demanding to stay focused for four-and-a-half or five hours. It's definitely one of the toughest races we race, but thank God it's at night now. The cooler weather helps us a little bit and that helps the fans, too, because that's a long time to sit in the bleachers as well. I'm glad they made it a night race."
A LOT OF ATTENTION IS PAID TO THE ENGINES OVER THAT LAST 100 MILES, BUT DOES THAT FINAL 100 MILES AFFECT YOU AS A DRIVER?
"Yes, because you run 400 and 500 miles all season long so your body is used to that and you pretty much train for that as much as you can. But when you get into the last 70 or 80 laps of that race you start to feel your arms getting tired and there are parts of your legs and your back that you didn't know you had because they start aching. That's definitely a great feeling when it's over with and you've made it the whole time. You're really looking for a break, a shower - something to relax your muscles a little bit because it's definitely a tough race for everybody."
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK OF GUYS LIKE ROBBY GORDON WHO ALSO RACE THE INDY 500?
"That's 1100 miles. I think it kind of showed how much energy we put into this race the first time Tony Stewart ran both of them. They had to really IV him after the race and lay him down and get some oxygen into him. There's a lot of effort that goes into these races and to run 1100 miles, even though you might get an hour break, it's not really a break because you're rushing to get on a plane, you're rushing down here and you're rushing to get over for the start of the race, so it's not like he's taking a break in between races either, so I'm very impressed when those guys can be able to do that."
YOU RAN AT RICHMOND WITH THE NEW CYLINDER HEAD PACKAGE. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS?
"I think it's definitely more along the lines rpm-wise with where we need to be to compete with the Chevrolets and Dodges. They've got us beat pretty bad right now in that area. We know we're at a disadvantage, but Doug and Robert and all the guys in the motor shop have worked day and night to try to get that cylinder head ready. I was able to run it at Richmond and was very happy with it. The longevity showed to be great and I've also tested it at Kentucky for a bunch of miles and this is something we need to work with in the future. I think we're gonna have to have it to be competitive and to win the championship this year, we're gonna have to have those heads - especially when we get to places like Michigan and Pocono and Indy and places like that. I think we're gonna have to have it to compete with these guys. I would have loved to have had it at California, but I'm really impressed with the work they've done on it so far. We're just gonna have to test it a few times because you have to change your setup with it a little bit, but, hopefully, it'll be good."
SO YOU SENSE YOU'RE DOWN ON HORSEPOWER?
"I think the Fords are at a disadvantage right now on horsepower, I think. It showed that when they went in and did the dyno stuff, but until we get our new heads that are more in tune to what Dodge and Chevrolet are doing, we're gonna be down a little bit. Not that we're down from a lack of work. I think we've got great horsepower for the engine that we have, but I think to be competitive we have to have the new style heads like the other guys have got. The rpm range now has gone up so much to where our motors are made to turn 9200-9300 while the Chevrolet and Dodges are turning 9800-10,000, so we have to try and get more on that pace to be able to run with those guys."
BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF A POINTS CHASE, DO YOU WORRY ABOUT TRYING SOMETHING NEW AND RISK DURABILITY ISSUES?
"Yeah, but I know it's gonna help the team. I sat down and talked to both Robert and Doug about that. I told them I wanted to test the new motor because I feel we need to have it to run good and be successful. I want to run it. We were in the top 10 in points when we went to Richmond and decided to run the motor and take a chance, and it worked out for us. It last the whole time, but sometimes you've got to take chances to make improvements. You've got to take a step back to take two steps forward and we were able to make it through Richmond."