ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - Race 2 Winner HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN AT DAYTONA? "It feels great. We were just talking about it on the way over here, it's probably the most emotional win I've ever had in any type of ...
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus - Race 2 Winner
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN AT DAYTONA? "It feels great. We were just talking about it on the way over here, it's probably the most emotional win I've ever had in any type of racing and I think the reason why is my pit crew got me out first. They're the big reason we won. The put a big load on my shoulders by having to hold the guys off and to be able to hold off great race car drivers like Harvick and Sterling and really use the race track to my advantage to win the race was pretty cool. This is big for us and our organization - M&M's and everybody involved - man, we're just glad to be here."
WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY? "I think we've got a pretty good outlook, especially now. This was the real racing condition we had to go through and everybody was thinking whether we were gonna lay back or not lay back because of the starting spot we already had locked up, but we figured we'd go for broke - race hard and make the decisions we need to make on the race track and it paid off. Todd gave me a great race car, it handled perfectly. I didn't have to lift any and I think that's why I was able to overtake Ricky right there before the pit stops and everything worked in our favor today and we made the most of it."
TONY STEWART SAID IT WAS THE BEST RACING HERE IN A WHILE AND JUNIOR SAID IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT. WHERE DO YOU STAND? "I have to agree with Tony Stewart on this one. I really applaud Goodyear for making the tires where they wear out quicker, where they put it on the crew chief and the driver to work on handling and get the car to work throughout the whole run. I think that was a big reason why we won today was because we outhandled a lot of the guys and I really applaud Goodyear on that. It takes a little bit of the no-tire, two-tire guessing game out of it because you know you're probably gonna have to get four every time, but your car really has to handle good at the end of the run and the changes Todd made to the car last night really helped us in that direction. I am for the changes they did to the tire."
DO YOU THINK JUNIOR SHOULD BE THE FAVORITE SUNDAY? "I would hope I'm the favorite. I out-qualified him and I won my race, too. I know you guys in the media and everybody at Daytona is picking him the favorite and that's cool. I don't mind being the underdog. Nobody picked me to win the second race and we went out and did that. Lord knows I haven't been to Victory Lane as many times as he has in restrictor plate races, but I think I've got a great car that can do it this year. The car qualified good, it runs good by itself, it runs good in the draft, it handles good. We know that he and the 15 are the two car we're gonna have to outrun, but one small thing I think everybody is forgetting is that Robert Yates Racing has been to Victory Lane more than anybody else this week, so that's definitely in our favor and I hope we continue to make that go on Sunday."
TODD PARROTT , Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
YOU TOLD ELLIOTT TO DRIVE IT LIKE HE STOLE IT. WHAT WAS THE THINKING? "Well, it's just exactly what we said. We made some pretty bold changes on the chassis last night. Yesterday in the last practice we weren't very good. He wasn't very happy and I could see it in his face, so we made some changes. We took some risks with some changes that we made that you probably wouldn't make on a Saturday night before the Daytona 500 and I just told him I knew we had a great car in the truck for a back-up and whatever happened happened. We weren't gonna ride around. We didn't come to Daytona to ride around, take the outside starting spot and just try to stay out of trouble. We came here to race. We came here to win races. I told him to just drive it like you stole it and that's exactly what he did. The pit crew did a great job, too."
DESPITE THE CHANGES, THE LEADER STILL SEEMS TO HAVE AN ADVANTAGE LATE IN THE RACE. "I think you're right because you're getting clearer air on the nose, you're creating downforce when you're out front. I followed Ricky Rudd, I think, until lap 20 or 22 and I was getting a little tight behind him and he was getting tight, so I decided to pass him to get more air on my nose to create more downforce, and we knew if we left pit road ahead of the other guys and we were in clean air we were going to save the right-front tire a little bit. Yes, I can sit here and tell you not of because what happened to day but even before the race started, whoever got the race with 20 laps to go had definitely got the advantage and makes his car wide and makes the right moves that he's probably got the benefit of the doubt to win the race. It showed in the first race as soon as the 8 used the 24 car to pass the 15, he got out front and nobody could pass him, and I had some great cars behind me pushing me but weren't able to have enough steam to get to us, so I still think, yes, the leader's definitely got the advantage."
THE OTHER DRIVERS SAID THEY HAD TO LIFT, AND YOU DIDN'T. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE REST OF THE FIELD? "Here in the past you could run 35 or 36 laps, whatever a fuel run was, and run wide open the whole time because the tires never played out. Then you could come in and get gas only or just rights or just lefts or whatever and go back on your merry way. Now, you actually have to handle. That's a decision Todd and I made testing, after qualifying we had a rocket down the straightaways, but when I got to the corner I had to pull the safety brake up. So Todd made some adjustments to the car to where we gave up some speed down the straightaway but, man, it goes through the corner wide open and that's something that we thought we had to work on. We think that's the way the week is shaping out. The guy with the best-handling race car is going to be successful today and Sunday. So that's the change, Todd saw it coming, made changes to go in that direction and we were able to run wide open the whole entire race. I have not been able to do that until today. So to change whatever he made last night, whatever he slept on, worked pretty good."
THERE WAS A LOT OF MOVEMENT SATURDAY NIGHT TOWARD THE FRONT OF THE PACK, BUT NOT TODAY. WAS THE DIFFERENCE THE TEMPERATURE? "I think so. It was, what, 40 degrees here Saturday, really cool, and today was probably the hottest the track temperature had been all week long. Plus we're getting more cars on the race track, more rubber being laid down. Before we ever took the green flag I could tell it was going to be slick. It was so black looking in the groove from the first Twin 125. The track's getting slicker and slicker. It's going to be worse Sunday than it's going to be today. So I don't think you're going to see two- and three-wide racing the whole entire run. I think you're going to see it at the very beginning when everybody's got new tires on, but after eight or nine laps, everybody's gonna start singling out a little bit or maybe just two-wide racing. So I don't think you're going to see the mess you saw in the Bud Shootout, which was great racing, but with the track getting hotter and slicker, I don't think you're going to see that."
EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT JUNIOR BEING THE FAVORITE. ARE YOU TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT IT? "Dale, Jr., and Michael Waltrip definitely earn the respect they're getting - I'm mean, they're proving it on the race track week-in and week-out at these restrictor-plate races. They are the two to beat, yes. He is the favorite because he deserves to be. He is the man. And we know, Todd and I sit here know, if we want to win the race Sunday, we have to out-run the 8 car. We know that's the one car that's going to be out front. We're tired of hearing about it because we want to win, not because they don't deserve it at all. Because, hey, man, we want a shot at this, too.
"Doug and Robert Yates about a year ago made some big commitments money-wise and people-wise to get our speedway program up and I think it's showing. I had a great car here last year for the 500. I think we were running third when the box went out. I sat on the pole at Talladega and had a great shot to win and flipped it. Here we're on the outside pole and won the twin 125 here, so we're catching up to them. Are we at the status they're at? No we are not. Are we catching up to them? I think we are. I'm glad he's the favorite. That takes pressure off of me and I can kind of go out there quietly and do my job and hopefully we can sneak up on them."
HOW DO YOU THINK MICHAEL WALTRIP FEELS. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT HIM? "That's up to you all. He's won two out of the last three Daytona 500s, I would say his name should be in the mix too, but that's up to you all and who you all want to talk about. I'm just kind of glad I'm the underdog so we can quietly go about our business and hopefully surprise you all and give you all something to write about Sunday night. Hopefully that's how it works out."
HOW HAPPY IS ROBERT YATES THIS YEAR? "I think he's very happy. A lot of good things happened over the winter at Robert Yates Racing and I think Robert sees the progress that we're making with the 88 and the 38. His engine program - going together with Jack Roush - there are a lot of good things happening at Robert Yates Racing and it's something to smile about and something to be proud of. For us to come down here to Daytona, this is a place that we love to shine and we've done that every four years over the last eight years. I think both cars - the 88 and the 38 - will have a good shot on Sunday. I just hope we do all the right things and can keep the 8 and the 15 behind us on Sunday."
DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT THIS YEAR? "I do. I think a lot of it was that we had a lot of changes last year. You can buy all the parts in the world. Everybody has the same access to whatever parts you want to buy to put on a race car, but communication is 100 percent key to what makes these cars go round and round. Last year we had a hard time with that with the changes we made. I had some bad luck and probably put myself in situations I shouldn't have been in, but with bringing Todd on last year and me learning a lot about Todd Parrott last year in the last few races has given me confidence. He demands a lot from his driver and he's getting the most out of me than anybody has ever gotten out of me in my whole career, so I've got a lot of confidence having him on that side of the box. I think I learned a lot last year of things to do and not to do and just feel better prepared this year physically and mentally. I think the team is better prepared than past years and I do have a lot of confidence right now. That's what I said when I first sat down. This win today is bigger for me than any win or any situation I've been in in NASCAR racing because my guys got me out front and I was able to hold off some of the best drivers in the business the last twentysome laps to win the race. That is huge confidence for Elliott Sadler, so that gives me a lot more confidence going into Sunday's race. Now I'm actually looking forward to it, knowing that I not only can push somebody but I kind of know how to hold them off. That's great for me to have that happen today and that's why I say it's probably the biggest win I've ever had."
DJ STRUGGLED TODAY. IS THERE ANYTHING SYMPTOMATIC? "Yeah, they had some popping in it and they really weren't sure. That's why he went from third all the way to the back and he never really could get that out of the car. He was just a little bit looser than he wanted to be, but I think he'll be fine coming out for the 500. His setup was a lot different than mine today and we're kind of liking that. If he had run better than we did, we would probably head in his direction but probably now they might come more in our direction today since we ran so good. It's something we had to do today. We had to test a little bit, but I don't think you're gonna see him go too far away. I think he'll be back where he needs to be come Sunday."
DOES ROBERT HAVE THE SAME SMILE TODAY AS HE DID FOUR YEARS AGO? "I think he's got a bigger smile on his face. There are just a lot of good things happening. He's got two cars that have been to Victory Lane in Daytona this week. He's got his engine program with Jack on the front row for the Daytona 500. That's something to be very proud about and, so far, he's got a lot of good things to be happy about. A lot of good things are happening and, hopefully, we can continue that and stay out of trouble the rest of the week and put a Robert Yates Racing car in Victory Lane on Sunday. But, yes, he is very happy."