ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) GENTERAL COMMENT ON DAYTONA SO FAR "We definitely haven't got off to a start like we wanted for Daytona Speedweeks, but we're working hard. I've enjoyed working with Ray (Evernham) the ...
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
GENTERAL COMMENT ON DAYTONA SO FAR "We definitely haven't got off to a start like we wanted for Daytona Speedweeks, but we're working hard. I've enjoyed working with Ray (Evernham) the past couple of days. We've got two days of practice left to get ready for the 500. That's what it's all about. That's what all the testing is about. We're going to make some changes to the car. We learned a lot from the 9 car yesterday. We think we're going to be pretty good for the 500."
HOW HAS IT BEEN HAVING RAY ON THE BOX? "It's been fun. Ray has got a lot of enthusiasm, and he's been fun to work with. He doesn't get shaken up. He's got a lot of experience. He's won this race a couple of times. Even yesterday when things weren't going like we wanted, he was very calm, which kept me calm in the race car. He's definitely going to be an asset to have on the box for the Daytona 500."
COMMENT ON THE NASCAR PENALTIES "On our situation, we have run those type of bolts on our cars all last year. We made it through tech the first time and got a seal on our spoiler with those in there. We're kinda confused about that a little bit at Evernham Motorsports. Ray and his partners are going to think about appealing the next couple of days. As far as yesterday's stuff, being low and things like that, I just think if you're low you're low. That's what they have post race inspection for and if you fail, you fail. The win should be taken from you and things like that. I'm glad NASCAR is stepping up to the plate with stiffer penalties. I think that's going to put us all in a tighter box. They're showing everybody they're not messing around, and as a competitor, I think that's a good thing. I think they need to be a little stiffer on penalties than they have been in the past so when you show up each week as a driver and team you know everybody is in the same ballgame. I've got to applaud NASCAR for stepping up to the plate and doing the fines and suspensions and stuff they've done this week. It shows everybody they are really serious, which in turn shows the competitors you're going to get a fair shake when you show up."
DID GORDON'S PENALTY SURPRISE YOU? "I was kinda surprised they let him keep the win. If you're low, you're low. If you don't pass post-race inspection you don't get whatever position you finished in. I think that's why you have post-race inspection. I think that's the purpose of it. It's just funny they were low on a track where low helps. I'm willing to bet they won't be low at a downforce racetrack where you want to be high. If anything happens they want to be high. It's just weird the way that all worked out. Jeff did a great job coming through the pack there at the end whether his car was low or high or whatever. He still drove a great race there at the end, made some great moves, and that's why he's won the Daytona 500 a couple of times."
COMMENT ON THE TIRES "The new tires are a lot different. We're still adjusting our cars to them and trying to get our package a little bit better with them. Goodyear has brought a different combination of things, and we're working on it. We have not found the right chemistry yet for us to like the tires with our setup. We've got two more days of hard work ahead of us. We know we've got a lot of work to do. We're going to keep plugging away. We're not going to give up on it. We're going to keep throwing stuff at it until something sticks and hopefully Sunday we'll be good. If we knew exactly what it would take we'd have it in the car right now. The field is very competitive. If you're off a little bit it shows up like a lot. We had a jackbolt unwind yesterday in the Duel race. I really would have liked to tested a good car yesterday for Sunday, but we're pretty much starting over at square one today and we'll make the most of it."
HOW DID YOUR RACES IN THE 19 LAST SEASON HELP? "It helped a lot. I'm so glad I came to this team last year to meet up with the guys and I learned a lot about them and their systems. Communication wise we're in a different league because of that than if we would be if this was my first race with them."
COMMENT ON BEING SELECTED NASCAR.COM'S COOLEST DRIVER TO HANG OUT WITH BY THE FANS "This is really a cool award. Growing up as a race fan and now being voted this award by the race fans is cool to me. I think I'm the same guy I was before I started racing. I'm the same guy from Emporia, Va. I go back home a lot and hang out with the guys I grew up with. I don't mind going out in the infield and hanging out with the fans sometimes on race weekends. I want to be one of the people. That's what it's all about. Obviously the fans can see that, and it's cool to get an award like that. I'm not going to change. I'm going to be myself no matter what color car I drive or who I work for or who I drive for. I'm going to be the same Elliott Sadler and be one of the people. Whether it's not shaving or hanging out with them or clowning around a little bit. I like being who I am and obviously the fans can see that."
COMMENT ON WHERE YOUR CAREER IS NOW "The last seven or eight months of my life have been absolutely great. I'm with a team right now and an owner that I think is still on his way up. He has a lot of fire, a lot of intensity. He's brought this company a long way in six short years. This is my ninth season. I have a lot of experience and I think I'm peaking right now. Ray and I have talked about that. This should be a break out season for Elliott Sadler. We should contend for The Chase. We should contend for wins. I think consistency pays the bills. If I've got an eighth-place car I need to finish eighth and not try to driver over my head and wreck it. You've got to learn when to go and when not to go. Patience and things like that are virtues in this sport. Those are the things I've worked on the most and I want to get better at."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THIS RACE? "This is the Daytona 500. This is what dreams are made of. This is where it all got started. To win here would be big. I think it defines somebody's career if they can win the Daytona 500. This is our Super Bowl. We want to run well here. We're doing the best we can. I'm looking forward to the 500. I'm ready to start the race. Drop the flag."
IS TONY STEWART THE GUY TO BEAT SUNDAY? "Stewart is 100 percent the guy to beat. I think the other 42 cars in the garage know that. To win the race Sunday you're going to have to outrun Tony Stewart. He showed it in the Bud Shootout. He showed it in the Duel. Nobody can really get any good runs on him. Even when you saw some cars try to team up on him, it was hard to get good runs on him. Right now I think he's in the driver's seat. Everybody else is trying to fine tune to try to outrun him. You're going to have to outrun him to become the Daytona 500 champion this year. I don't know what he's got. I heard that's the best car they've ever had in the wind tunnel downforce wise and drag wise. Tony is great at these restrictor-plate races. He's got an amazing record here and Talladega. Whatever they've got is working well. We're going to keep working on our stuff and hopefully close that gap and be better prepared for him on Sunday."
MIKE ACCAVITTI (director, Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing)
COMMENT ON THE COT "Guys are starting to spend more time in the cars, and they're becoming more comfortable with the handling of the car. I talked with Kurt Busch a couple of days ago, and he was very positive about his latest experience in the vehicle. We're ready and excited about checking it out on the track in a real racing situation. It's coming. We've always embraced it from the get-go. We've been working with NASCAR trying to develop it. We've had a little different attitude than maybe some of the other guys. We're excited about cars that are going to make racing more exciting and make racing safer for the drivers. We're looking forward to Bristol. >From a marketing perspective, we're launching a new nameplate. We're launching the Dodge Avenger. I'm really looking forward to getting some exposure for that nameplate, and it's an integral part of our product launch campaign. Around that time you're going to see TV commercials introducing the product, and NASCAR is an important chunk of that launch."
DO YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE EVERYBODY IS ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD? "I do. I believe NASCAR prides itself, sometimes to our detriment, on having a level playing field. I can appreciate that that is one of their primary objectives, and I feel everywhere in their operation that they operate that way. I suppose it can seem when things don't go the way we like 'em that there are singling us out, but when you step back and look at it overall, they treat everybody the same. They don't cut breaks to one manufacturer."
DO YOU TALK TO DODGE TEAMS ABOUT CHEATING? "We don't even have to do that. I would never endorse any flagrant rule violation. We would never want to be a part of that. We would take serious issue if one of our teams did a flagrant violation of the rules. The issues we saw this week with our teams were a gray area of violations. I don't look at it whether you steal a dollar or steal $10,000. Stealing is stealing. I agree with that concept, but this isn't stealing. This is one of those areas it doesn't say if you can do it or not. These were gray area violations. The guys tried to push the envelope, and this is what happens when they don't like how far you push it. I think people realize that taking advantage of gray areas might be part of the sport. I don't think the fans have an appreciation of out-and-out cheating. Fans will forgive a guy. I think they'll forget about it in time."
WOULD CHEATING IN NASCAR EFFECT CAR SALES? "The reason we're in NASCAR is to improve and enhance the brand image of Dodge. Anything that would be contra to that -- like cheating or if we had a Dodge driver who was the biggest jerk on the track and he was cutting people off all the time and knocking people out of the race -- that would have a negative image on our brand and that would eventually turn some of our customers off. There used to be a saying that there's no such thing as bad PR. Yeah, there is. We saw it this week."
COMMENT ON DODGE'S ON-TRACK PERFORMANCE SO FAR AT DAYTONA "I'm very excited about how we're doing here. The Penske guys and Ganassi guys have come to do some serious driving. We're going to see a great race on Sunday. Bobby Labonte has showed some strength. The Evernham guys are getting their stuff together. They didn't do too great in the Duels, but they had some team meetings yesterday. They understand what the issues are and they're going to work through them. I expect to see some good things out of them on Sunday. Plus, I'm dangling that free SRT vehicle. It's amazing that these drivers are actually thinking about that. I saw Juan, Reed and Stremme yesterday and all three are talking about which car they would pick if they win."
COMMENT ON THE RACE AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY ON FEB. 25 "The biggest improvement is in the stability of the car. The drivers are telling us that. Kahne says he doesn't really see a huge difference, of course he won six races in the old car and he really didn't have an issue with it. The other drivers are telling us the new Dodge nose makes the car a lot less volatile in the turns in the traffic. They're excited about it. They think it's a great improvement, so we're looking forward to that race in California."
DAVID STREMME (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
COMMENT ON TEAM'S PROGRESS FROM LAST SEASON TO NOW "We had a really good Vegas test and here. We've been solid in the top 10 here since qualifying practice. We finished good in the 150s. The main thing is we're just getting the car ready. We're going to do a little practice tomorrow and get ready for Sunday. We would like to win the 500, but the main goal is just get a really good, solid finish and just get the season started off right."
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO JEFF GORDON'S PENALTY? "It's kind of crazy because you look at some other teams in the garage that had penalties on Sunday, and the crew chiefs got thrown out. That deal there was kind of a weird thing where the shocks were. Basically they had come loose and the bracket got hung, so I mean that is pretty hard to do something intentional. I think they understood that side of it. They put him in the back, and that's going to cost him quite a bit because when you are back there and there is a wreck you might get run over or caught up in a wreck. You don't know ,so it's going to hurt a little bit."
COMMENT ON THE PENALTIES ALL WEEK "you have 61 teams here that are trying and NASCAR has got to be fair. You know there are no slouch teams. Everybody has really good equipment and they have got to stick to the rules. Especially with the COT car coming in they are going to crack down even harder and it's good. I mean some of the teams put a lot of effort into cheating and maybe they won't do that as much now."
COMMENT ON TEAMMATE REED SORENSON "I've known Reed for like six years now, and we hang out and live about a half mile from one another. I mean we have a good time, so I guess you could say we are more like brothers in that. I mean we talk about a lot of different things here and a lot of stuff. He's real mature to be so young. I've seen him when he was 16 to now, and it is something where he has matured a lot. Sometimes you forget how old he is."
WHAT MAKES HIM A SPECIAL DRIVER? "He just has a real sense of the car and he is really smooth in that. He has got a lot of talent. I mean he has been racing all his life and understands how to get the car ready. He has worked on his own stuff before, and I think that is a pretty big help."
REED SORENSON (No. 41 Target Dodge Charger)
WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY? "It's pretty good. We think our car is really good. We blew a motor yesterday in the 150s. We were running in the top 10 all day, and I think it was five laps to go when we blew a motor, so we are currently waiting on the answer on that. All the motors for the 500 got taken back to the race shop. I think they got back there last night at about 1 a.m. and then a whole crew of guys came in to figure out what's going on so as long as they get that stuff handled. They have been making us a lot more power this year than we have had in the past, so they have been doing a good job with that. As long as we make it through 500 miles without breaking a motor, I feel like we have a good car and we should be OK. We just learned a little bit about our car more than anything and tires and things like that in the Duel, so we can just take that information and use it tomorrow There is a practice tomorrow for an hour and a half, so we are going to run about 20 laps or so and make sure everything is good on the car and make a few changes to see if that makes a difference."
-credit: dodge motorsports