Daytona II: Ford - Elliott Sadler interview

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, was Ford's fastest qualifier Thursday night and will start ninth in Saturday's Pepsi 400. This marks the second straight restrictor-plate race in which Sadler has been the manufacturer's top ...

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, was Ford's fastest qualifier Thursday night and will start ninth in Saturday's Pepsi 400. This marks the second straight restrictor-plate race in which Sadler has been the manufacturer's top qualifier - he was third at Talladega before ultimately finishing third in the race. Sadler, who was wearing a bright tie-dyed t-shirt promoting his M&M's Groovy Summer paint scheme, spoke about his prospects for winning tomorrow's event.

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

ONLY TWO FORDS QUALIFIED IN THE TOP 25 FOR TOMORROW'S RACE (DALE JARRETT IS 16TH), SO HOW DO YOU ASSESS YOUR CHANCES TO WIN?

"I think restrictor-plate racing has been really tough on the Fords the last two years. We haven't led hardly any laps and the Chevrolets have been dominant, so it's been tough. It doesn't look like it's getting much better because I think there are only two Fords that qualified in the top 25. I think that has got to open somebody's eyes because I don't think all Ford teams are that bad on restrictor-plate tracks, especially when you go to a regular race and the Roush cars are always very, very strong. So, sometimes I feel like we're outnumbered because if you don't have that many Fords up front, the Chevrolets are definitely gonna work together with each other and not with you. Sometimes you feel like you've got a pretty good disease up there in the front if you're the only one there. I think that's hurting us a lot right now."

YOU FINISHED 2ND TO MICHAEL WALTRIP IN THE 2002 DAYTONA 500 AND FINISHED 3RD AT TALLADEGA EARLIER THIS YEAR, SO CAN YOU DO WHAT YOU NEED TO IN ORDER TO WIN?

"I don't think I can pass on my own. I think I'm gonna have to be in a good line and have some good people pushing me. I have to put myself in a situation where the people have to help me if they're behind me. It's hard playing a chess game like that because you feel like you're playing with fewer pieces on the board than they've got. Yes, you can win the game, but you definitely have to be smart about it and not make any mistakes. I try to do my job. I've looked at a lot of videotapes of past races to see where I made a good move and where I didn't make a good move. I try to store that in my databank where I can try to use it to my advantage for the race. But it's tough. All of the Chevrolets know that the Fords are not as fast as they are, so if they've got a chance to pass you, they're gonna hang you out to dry because they're gonna be able to run faster if a bunch of them are together. That's what makes it so hard to work with those guys."

YOU'VE HELPED SOME OTHER DRIVERS IN THE PAST TO WIN RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR REARVIEW MIRROR THAT MAYBE OWES YOU A FAVOR?

"I feel like I've pushed Michael (Waltrip) a few times to the front and I feel like I helped Dale, Jr. win the race at Talladega, so, hopefully, those guys will want to return the favor. But those guys like to lead as well, so I can understand their point of view. You just never know. You never know who is gonna help who. It all depends on what line you're gonna be in, but to win one of these races you're gonna have to outrun the 15 and the 8. I think Michael and Dale, Jr. do the best job of helping each other as teammates. They really take care of each other. They know where each other is at and they know both of their cars are fast, so they work well together. I think for anybody to end this DEI dominance, they're gonna have to do it with two or three cars. One car isn't gonna go out there and outrun both of them, so it's gonna take two or three guys working together to try and get in between them and separate them to try and win the race."

ARE YOU CLEAR ON THE YELLOW LINE RULE?

"It's just a judgement call. I try not to put myself in a situation where NASCAR has to make a judgement call because they can call it however they want to see it. If you're the driver, you're gonna only see it your way. No, it's really not clear on if somebody runs you below the yellow line is it your fault or their fault? You can't check-up because you're gonna cause the biggest wreck in history with people running all over the back of you, so it's a hard rule. It's definitely a good rule to have to keep people off the apron, but it's also a hard rule to judge when to make the move and when not to because if the guy in front you just runs the yellow line, he's gonna stay in front of you the whole day. It's a tough judgement call, just like at Talladega. I think the right call was made because the pass had already been made, it was just a safety maneuver. If he hadn't moved down, we probably would have had a 30-car wreck there, so I think the right call was definitely made at Talladega. I'm sure we'll get some questions and answers tomorrow in the driver's meeting before the race, so we'll have to wait and see until then what kind of judgement calls will be made."

IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE EVER WORN A TIE-DYED T-SHIRT?

"This is the first time I've ever worn a tie-dyed t-shirt. The thing is pretty cool, though, I like it. It's bright. I wish the car was this bright because I like this yellow. I think it looks good."

-fr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Elliott Sadler