Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, comes into this weekend's race fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. He spoke about Saturday night's race after practice and before qualifying. ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38...
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, comes into this weekend's race fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. He spoke about Saturday night's race after practice and before qualifying.
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
JIMMIE JOHNSON SWEPT BOTH RACES HERE LAST YEAR. WITH JEFF GORDON'S SUCCESS HERE AS WELL, HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THEY TALK? "I think a lot. I think their driver styles are similar and it looks like their cars all look the same each and every week so they probably run the same setups. I'm sure Jimmie has been listening to Jeff a lot. I know I would if Jeff Gordon was my teammate. I know I use my teammate a lot for this place, too - Dale Jarrett. He's had success here and it's smart. I just think they've probably taken what the 24 had learned here in the past and took it a step further and became a great race team that runs good here. I think that's what every team tries to do - you try to feed off your teammates, take what they've got and try to make it better and then go from there."
DO YOU THINK THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON DARLINGTON? WILL THE DAY COME WHERE YOU DON'T RACE HERE ANYMORE? "I hope not. I think the fans have spoken out by selling this place out. That's the best thing the fans can do. We talk about the history of this place and the prestige of it and if fans keep selling it out, I think we'll keep coming back. I can't wait to see what the night race adds to this race. I think it's gonna be fun for the fans. It's gonna be fun for the drivers and time might be ticking, but we still have a few races left here, I think."
WHEN YOU TAKE THE SHORTER SPOILER AND SAFER BARRIER DOES IT MAKE THIS PLACE MORE TREACHEROUS THAN EVER? "We're more out of control this year than I've ever been here at Darlington. We've got a really good car, but the first 10 laps I made it felt like they brought the Daytona tire here. The track is just getting old and gray. You have a lot less room to slide around because of the SAFER barriers, but we like the SAFER barriers. It's gonna create great racing, I think. When have you ever come to Darlington and seen a boring race. You can show highlight after highlight of this place, whether they had new asphalt, SAFER barriers, no SAFER barriers, and then we add a new element of nighttime racing with the lights, I think you're still gonna see a great race tomorrow night."
WHO DO YOU THINK THE FAVORITE IS THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know. I think the 16 has been running good everywhere they're going. I think the 24 is on a roll right now, so I would say the 16 and the 24 are definitely the two cars that everybody is looking at in the garage."
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW AT RYR? "I think we're pretty good. I mean, we've got two teams in the top seven. Other than Roush and Hendrick, I think we're the next strongest team. We're making leaps and bounds and we're gaining on them and closing the gap. My guys are working harder than any other team here. We've been testing everywhere the last two weeks trying to get better and I think we're catching up with everyone."
DOES TESTING WEAR ON YOU? "It does a little bit, but I'm still young so it hasn't affected me yet."
WHERE DO YOU NEED TO CATCH UP WITH OTHER TEAMS? "When you look at Roush and Hendrick, they've got so many engineers. They have seven or eight engineers where other teams have only one or two because they have so many teams. They've figured out this Goodyear tire package and they've figured out this short spoiler a little bit sooner than everybody else because they have the manpower to do that. I think us as a team has worked our butts off. It seems like they're working 20 hours a day to try to close that gap. We're in the wind tunnel all the time. We're testing cars all the time on short tracks and mile and a halves to try to get our program better, and I think we've closed the gap. I think we had a great test at Charlotte the other day and we've come here and we're very fast here at Darlington. My guys have done a good job to make us a competitive team and I think we're gonna be able to show that from here on out."