Earnhardt Jr., Sadler Earn Gatorade 125 Victories DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 12, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his seventh victory at historic Daytona International Speedway while Elliott Sadler picked up his first triumph as the...
Earnhardt Jr., Sadler Earn Gatorade 125 Victories
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 12, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his seventh victory at historic Daytona International Speedway while Elliott Sadler picked up his first triumph as the Gatorade 125's produced an exciting day of racing at the "World Center of Racing."
Earnhardt Jr., driving the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, held off Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray to capture the first Gatorade 125 while Sadler, wheeling the No. 38 M&M's Ford, survived the challenges of Sterling Marlin and Jimmie Johnson to win the second Gatorade 125.
Earnhardt Jr. passed Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip on Lap 36 and then held off Stewart to seal the victory.
"I knew when we got new tires that if I was going to get past Michael (Waltrip) I was going to have to do it real fast," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I couldn't waste time and get behind him. I was real lucky there to be able to get under him after the tri-oval there, and he got backed up behind Jeff (Gordon). I had a great car. I've just got to be out front. Hopefully we can win the 500."
Sadler, who already earned the outside pole for the Daytona 500 during last Sunday's Budweiser Pole Qualifying session, couldn't be happier to finally make it to victory lane at Daytona.
"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," said Sadler. "It 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 (Kevin) Harvick and Sterling (Marlin) and really use the race track to my advantage to win. This is a big for us and our organization."
Earnhardt Jr. may be the favorite for Sunday's 46th running of the Daytona 500, but Sadler will look to prove otherwise on Sunday afternoon.
"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," said Sadler. "I don't mind being the underdog, I know that everybody at Daytona is picking him the favorite. I would hope that I'm the favorite since I out-qualified him and I won my race too."
The Gatorade 125's filled positions 3-30 in the Daytona 500 field while qualifying speeds and provisionals finalize the field for the "Great American Race." The two drivers that failed to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500 were Kirk Shelmerdine (No. 72 Ford) and Andy Hillenburg (No. 90 Ford).
Tickets for Speedweeks 2004 events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.