Daytona 500: Elliott Sadler press conference

ELLIOTT SADLER--21-- Motorcraft Taurus Second place finisher; top Ford finish "First of all, this second to us down here is like a win for our program. This is huge for Wood Brothers Racing. We didn't really end the season last year like we ...

ELLIOTT SADLER--21-- Motorcraft Taurus
Second place finisher; top Ford finish

"First of all, this second to us down here is like a win for our program. This is huge for Wood Brothers Racing. We didn't really end the season last year like we wanted to. We've had a pretty long winter. We've made some changes to some of the chassis stuff we're doing. It's tough racing in this business, so to finish second down here is unbelievable. We've been struggling all week. I think we took a provisional. We almost got lapped in the twin 125. We made a lot of changes in the car and it paid off for us today, so, the Wood Brothers for all their hard work -- the pit stops we had today. The best pit stops I've ever had in my entire life. Those guys must have been working a lot in the winter time. I just want to thank everybody with Motorcraft Quality Parts. We had a lot of customers here in the stands today, a lot of big guys from Ford Motor Company, so to put a couple Fords up in the top five was special for all of us. I do want to thank Geoffrey here beside me for pushing me to the front one time on the inside line. I was supposed to work with him at the end, but I got a little bit of a push on the outside and I had to go around him a little bit. This means more to this program than the win we had last year at Bristol. This is huge for our Wood Brothers program, so, hopefully, this will get us off to a good start here in the 2002 season."

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT JARRETT AND WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS GOING ON OUT THERE? "You all listen to that and monitor us that closely? We knew it was gonna be tough. I was restarting behind Geoffrey. If you all were monitoring me, you know everybody was trying to figure out who you're gonna work with. All the spotters are trying to go to each other, all the crew chiefs. 'So and so is gonna help you -- maybe they're not gonna help you.' You never know who is gonna help you. What my comment back to them was, 'Hey, this is the Daytona 500. Nobody is gonna help anybody unless they think they can win the race.' That's really the way I feel about it. I didn't know whether the 88 was gonna try to help me or not, but I did know he was gonna try to pass me on that restart. I blocked him low and I blocked him high. I mean, I drove DJ pretty bad. I blocked him really bad and for somebody you look up to, that's kind of a bad feeling, but it's the Daytona 500. This is special to us and I really wanted a good finish. That could have made the difference from me finishing second or finishing 12th, so I had to do what I had to do. I've seen other people block that bad on restarts, so I figured that's what I had to do to finish second."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE THE WINNER FROM VIRGINIA? "I think that's pretty cool and I mentioned that to all my guys after the race. We made a big deal about who is pushing who the last couple races -- the 15 pushing the 8 and the 8 pushing the 15. Well, I finished third here in July and the reason I finished third was the 22 car of Ward Burton pushed me. He finished fourth and he pushed me by a couple people on the last lap to finish that way, so my exact words to him when I ran into victory lane to hug him and tell him congratulations was, 'Hey, that's my payback to you. You helped me here last July.' There's nothing wrong with working with him. I worked with him a lot during the race -- the last 50 laps I saw that Caterpillar Dodge right much, so it was pretty cool to work with him."

WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE RULES TODAY? "I think some of the fans were worried about how much we were gonna be able to race today with the rule changes and if it was gonna be spread out because the first twin 125 probably wasn't the most competitive. But from where I was all day, we were beating and banging. I wasn't leading the race every lap, but it was pretty competitive to me. Even the last 50 laps, running in the top 10, there was a lot of pushing and passing going on. So, yes, I'm happy with the rule change. I didn't know how much spread out we would be. I know it was not the race like last year where you had 43 cars all within a second, but if you had a good handling race car, you could pass people whenever you wanted to. I think the rules changes were a good plus."

HOW DID THE FORDS HANDLE AFTER THE RULES CHANGE? "I was a little free with people behind me. I was a lot of out of control compared to where I was earlier in the week, but I could suck up a lot better. I could actually get up and push the guy in front of me, but I had a lot of times where I had the wheel probably more to the right than I did to the left. I think a lot of cars were backing off and using brakes. With this new rules package, we probably had half the downforce that we had last year with all the stuff on the spoiler and the roof and all that, so all the cars were dancing around a lot. I think the Fords, yes, it helped us suck up a lot, but it also made our cars drive a little looser -- it did mine."

HOW DID YOU HELP WARD? "I knew with the restart that we had a lot of big-name guys behind us that had been in these situations before -- right here in the Daytona 500 or the Pepsi 400 or whatever. They've got a lot more experience than me, so I just went through the gear box and I was meaning to push Geoffrey, but when I looked up and the 88 and the 2 and the 97 -- all of them were gonna go on the outside and I had to make a quick decision, so I just swerved hard right and they pushed me. They ended up just pushing me by Geoffrey and I just helped Ward down the back straightaway by Geoffrey and back in front of him. Then he gave me a shot and we kind of broke away from everybody. I'm thinking, 'this is pretty cool -- a single car, let's get a little bit of a breakaway here and then we'll worry about it ourselves.' So I just helped Ward some down the back straightaway as far as making sure he was in front of Geoffrey and then he kind of pulled me by the 09 and then Geoffrey pulled in behind me and we kind of got away from everybody. I guess just pushing him down the back straightaway was probably the only way I helped the 22 car."

DID THE FORD AND DODGE RULE CHANGE HAVE AN EFFECT ON TODAY AS FAR AS FINISHING ORDER? "I don't know how much effect it had on the finishing order."

DID NASCAR GO TOO FAR? "I don't think so. A lot of good cars that were a lot faster than me -- like the 24 and the 8 and the 29 and some of those guys, the 15's front-end damage that he had -- were all taken out in wrecks. I think a lot of us were just able to miss the wrecks and that's the reason we were up there. It's not like a Ford led every lap of the race or anything. It helped some for us to be able to draft up with the guys. For the first time all week I actually could pull up and push somebody in the straightaway instead of just holding on, so that makes a big difference on how you finish. But our cars were dancing around a lot more than they had been all week too, so I think it was a pretty even trade."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Elliott Sadler