Darlington II: Elliott Sadler - Ford interview

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus held a Q&A session outside of his hauler following practice on Friday at Darlington Raceway. ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus HOW WOULD YOU HANDICAP THE TITLE CONTENDERS WITH TWO RACES TO...

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus held a Q&A session outside of his hauler following practice on Friday at Darlington Raceway.

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus

HOW WOULD YOU HANDICAP THE TITLE CONTENDERS WITH TWO RACES TO GO?

"I'm not gonna change what I said at the beginning - Jeff Gordon is gonna be the guy to beat. He has more experience than anybody. His team has more experience. They've got their stuff together. Of course, I'm pulling for Kurt Busch because he's a Ford driver, and Mark Martin. We get our motors from the same place, so that would be cool to see them win the race and have Yates-Roush engines up on stage, but they're gonna have to beat the 24 to do it. I'm not gonna change my pick. I'm not gonna be wishy-washy. I think when it's all said and done, that's who you're gonna have to outrun."

HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THE LAST TWO WEEKS AND SEEING YOUR TITLE CHANCES SLIP AWAY?

"They have been tough, but this is my first year running for the championship so I've kind of gone through the bumps and bruises. Maybe we had the press on when we shouldn't have had the press on. It's stuff I've got to learn. You've got to put yourself in this situation to figure out what you've got to do right and what you've got to do wrong. I really feel like if we get in the top 10 again next year, that I'm definitely gonna be a lot better prepared. I'm gonna know what to understand and what to do. DJ tried to give me some great hints and advice along the way. Some I took and listened and did a good job with and some I didn't, I didn't do what I was supposed to do. It's been a tough couple of weeks, but we're still happy with where we're at. If you would have told us at the beginning of the year that we would be in Victory Lane three times and be one of the only teams in the top 10 in points all year long, it's a good feeling to have. We've come a long way from 22nd in the points last year, so if we can keep building with this team and on this experience, we should be fine for the next couple of years."

HOW MUCH CREDIBILITY DOES THIS GIVE YOU TO HAVE MADE THE TOP 10?

"We've proved that we're a top 10 team and we have top-five, top-six or seven race cars every single week. What we do with them kind of makes or breaks you - whether you can run good all day and finish or make some mistakes like lately. I think this team has a lot of credibility. Todd Parrott brings a lot to the table and he's got a great surrounding team and I think I'm just coming into my own as a race car driver of understanding what I need each and every week to be one of the ones to beat, and I'm looking forward to the next couple of years with this team. We're the youngest team right now in the top 10 and that's a lot to say. We think we're just gonna build on it and be that much better next year."

IS IT FAIR TO LOOK AT PAST PERFORMANCE AT THESE TRACKS?

"I don't think you can go off year's past. Racing has changed so much and the tires are so much different this year, the aero packages are so much different. I mean, it's good to have statistics on who is good and who is not for the fans to look at, but you have to look at who is on a roll right now. The 12 car has been running good. Mark's being consistent. Jeff is coming off a great run last year and so did the 8 car. The 97 just seems to get their stuff together at the end of every race. I think it's more important who has been running good the last two or three races than who was running good last year. I don't car if we're going to Darlington or Martinsville, who is on that high? Who has got the confidence in each other? Who is just riding the wave? I think it's more accurate to go off of that rather than what happened here last year or in year's past."

IT'S SUCH A DIFFERENT BALLGAME THIS YEAR.

"It is. It's a different ballgame and driver's really haven't been in this situation before in the last couple of years. This group of guys that are racing for the championship are only a few points apart and there are a lot of different pressures on them. They've probably got a lot of different thoughts about racing here - 500 miles - there are different strategies. There are a lot of different things that are gonna play out on Sunday that we don't know what's gonna happen. It's fun to be a part of it, but it's definitely gonna be fun to watch and see how these guys handle it and how they treat this race track and what they do next week. How do you win this championship? Do you do it with a win and a 15th, or two third-place finishes? What's gonna win this championship? And it's gonna be cool to see how that plays out the next two weeks."

WHAT DIDN'T YOU APPLY THAT DJ TAUGHT YOU?

"Just when to use patience and when not to use patience. At Martinsville, I felt like at the end of the race I didn't use enough patience at all. Phoenix was definitely the same thing. You've got to pick and choose your battles and that's something he taught me very well. I've been doing that so great this year until Martinsville and Phoenix. I know the people you're supposed to race and not supposed to race in this sport and I was just racing the wrong people at the wrong time. I got caught up in the moment of just trying to run up front all the time and not waiting to race the race track and do the things I needed to do. I've learned some valuable lessons the last few weeks and it's definitely been frustrating. What happened at Atlanta was the biggest backbreaker we could possibly have, but as long as we learn from there, we should be a better off team in the future."

WHAT ABOUT THE RACE THIS WEEKEND? ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN HERE.

"I think that's why so many drivers and teams like Darlington. This track can bite you or it can give you the biggest reward in racing. It's a tough race track. I think it's great from a scheduling standpoint by putting this second to the end because this is a big, big hurdle. This track will reach out and grab you and really cause problems. We've already seen one of the championship contenders (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) already have a problem this morning going to a backup car and that's what this track will give you. I think it's great having it this close to the end of the season this year and I can't wait to see how it plays out. We'll see what happens."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin