ELLIOTT SADLER STATESVILLE, N.C. -- It turned out Elliott Sadler lost Sunday's Daytona 500 by a half lap when rain fell seconds after Matt Kenseth made the pass for the victory. But Sadler has put Daytona in his rearview mirror and is now...
STATESVILLE, N.C. -- It turned out Elliott Sadler lost Sunday's Daytona 500 by a half lap when rain fell seconds after Matt Kenseth made the pass for the victory. But Sadler has put Daytona in his rearview mirror and is now focusing on the future and that begins Sunday in Fontana, Calif. His top-five finish, coupled with bonus points he received for the 24 laps led, place Sadler tied with Clint Bowyer for fourth in Sprint Cup Series driver points and in good position to start his season-long quest for his first Sprint Cup Series Championship. This weekend Sadler climbs into the No. 19 Best Buy Dodge on the two-mile oval.
"The end of the Daytona 500 was a tough one to swallow. But I can honestly say that now it's time to focus on the positive. I had a top-five finish, led more laps in one race than I did in all of 2008 and I'm in a great position to start the season.
"Before I got to Daytona I sat down and came up with my goals for the 2009 season. My goals are to lead laps, win races, qualify for the Chase and win the Sprint Cup championship. I think I have a team that can do all of those things. Last week we led laps. We were in position to win the race, came up a bit short but still finished in the top-five. We are tied for fourth in points. We are on track after the first race of the season to accomplish those goals.
"Don't get me wrong -- I know it's a long season and it's not going to get any easier. We drive each week with the best drivers in our sport. No one is going to roll over for you and let you win. This season I am out to prove that I'm a damn good race car driver who can compete with the best of them.
"The fourth car at Richard Petty Motorsports adds a new dimension to our race team. I think we showed that in Daytona. Kasey, AJ, Reed and I got a chance to work together on and off the racetrack and I think it showed in our performance. I think we are off to a great start at Richard Petty Motorsports and I'm pumped to see what the future holds."
Primary: No. 269 Details: New chassis
Backup: No. 259 Details: Raced frequently in 2008.
* Kevin Buskirk begins the second race in his first season at the helm of the No. 19 Dodge. Buskirk previously teamed with Sadler at Robert Yates Racing as the engineer and later as crew chief of the No. 38. In 2004 the No. 38 team with a combination that included Buskirk and Sadler scored two wins and made the Chase for the Championship. Buskirk spent the last two seasons as the director of research and development at Dale Earnhardt Inc.