Sadler rebounds in backup car - 9th in Twins, 18th for 500. In his first official outing of the "M&M's" Ford, Elliott Sadler presented himself as a serious threat for victory in practice sessions throughout the weekend. After qualifying 20th ...
Sadler rebounds in backup car - 9th in Twins, 18th for 500.
In his first official outing of the "M&M's" Ford, Elliott Sadler presented himself as a serious threat for victory in practice sessions throughout the weekend. After qualifying 20th Sadler was set to start in the second set of the Twin 125 races.
The "M&M's" team planned on racing chassis number 35 - the car teammate Dale Jarrett won the 1999 Daytona 500 with - for each event of Speedweeks. Unfortunately, disaster struck on Tuesday with only three minutes left in the practice session when the No. 0 car of Jack Sprague got loose on the backstretch. Sprague hit Mike Skinner and Skinner clipped the back end of Sadler's "M&M's" Ford. Sadler then spun around and hit on the opposite side of the car by Jeff Burton. Sadler was not injured but all cars with the exception of Sprague were forced to backup cars.
"The No. 4 of Skinner car was blending in and I guess Sprague didn't see him and just absolutely ran in the side of him. I don't know if he misjudged him or what was going on, but it's a shame to wreck a bunch of good cars on the straightaway. I mean, we're supposed to be professionals and using our heads and they're out there running into the side of each other on the straightaway. There's not much common sense going on," recounted Sadler.
"Its too bad because that car was a rocket. We led just about the whole doggone practice. Every lap we were out there we were pretty much in the front. I decided to drift to the back a little bit just to see what my car would do around a lot of turbulence and right at that time the wreck happened with four minutes left to go in practice. I don't know what happened. I just wish people would use their heads more. It's put us in a bad predicament. We're going to have to try to do the best we can to get around it.
"Luckily, we have a third car. The guys at the shop are painted it and brought it down by Wednesday morning. That one isn't really as good as the other two, so I really have to be careful the rest of the week if I'm going to have any chance at the 500."
Perseverance seemed to be the word of the day for the running of the Twin 125's. Sadler had to drop to the back of the field and start 25th. Shortly after the green flag flew he moved up into the top-20. He drafted with many different cars throughout the run. NASCAR mandated 11 gallon fuel tanks for the restrictor plate race in Daytona, so all the teams had to make a pit stop in order to complete the 125 miles.
Sadler moved up into the top-10 and led lap 32 before bringing his "M&M's" Ford to pit road on lap 33. The "M&M's" crew made a two tire pit stop and gave Sadler enough fuel to finish the race. Elliott then caught up to the lead draft and ran as high as sixth before taking the checkered flags in ninth.
"I drove a pretty timid race," said Sadler after the event. "I wanted to check out and see what the car would do when I put it in certain situations. One thing is it was really hard to pass and run on the outside groove. It never was like that before so we are going to have to figure that one out. I am real happy for this performance, and hope everyone knows we are going to be around at the end of these races in contention for some wins."
Sadler's finish set the stage for an 18th place starting position for the Daytona 500, which is set to begin at 1:00pm ET on Sunday February 16th, 2003.