Elliott Sadler, Driver, No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger Weekly Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Q: WILL THERE BE A LARGE SADLER FAMILY CONTINGENT AT RICHMOND THIS WEEKEND? A: Yeah (laughs). It's always an honor for me to go back to Richmond.
Elliott Sadler, Driver, No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger
Weekly Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Q: WILL THERE BE A LARGE SADLER FAMILY CONTINGENT AT RICHMOND THIS WEEKEND?
A: Yeah (laughs). It's always an honor for me to go back to Richmond. I use to go there many times as a kid back when it was the third race of the season in March. We use to go Daytona, Rockingham and Richmond. I'm a big fan of the race track. I was there the day it went from half-mile to three-quarter mile and a lot of my family and friends still go to that race each time that we have it there. I've got a big (Sadler) clan coming from the south side of Virginia which makes it where you want to run very well and have success at that race track. It is my home race track, so I'm looking forward to going there this weekend.
Q: WHAT DO YOU SPECIFICALLY LIKE ABOUT RACING AT RICHMOND?
A: I just think that it's a great race track. I wish we had more tracks like it on the schedule. It's a three-quarter mile track that has a little bit of the speedway sensation as far as how fast you run in the frontstretch and a lot of the short track sensation of how short the corners are. The grooves get pretty wide. We can run two-wide and race pretty hard. We've seen some great races there in the past. There's a lot of energy there -- especially this weekend -- getting ready to start the Chase. I thoroughly enjoy the track. I wish I was better there than I am, but as far as the race track, I thoroughly enjoy going there and that part of Virginia. Doug Fritz (RIR President) and his staff do a great job for the race fans. They have a lot of sell outs going in a row. Hopefully, they can do it again Saturday night.
Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CHARITY EVENT TOMORROW?
A: I'm pretty excited about it. Each and every year we try and do something different for our fans. Tomorrow we're having our annual Barn Party. Whether you're a race fan or an Elliott Sadler fan or NASCAR fan, we invite you to our house and our backyard where we have a country music festival for about seven or eight hours with a lot of food and drinks to raise money for charity.
We've got Kasey Kahne coming to sign autographs. Dale Jarrett is coming to sign autographs. I'll be signing autographs. We have different country music acts coming in (to sing). Lee Brice, an up-and-coming country music singer and rising star in Nashville will be there. American Idol's Bucky Covington will be playing and the headliner will be my friend Blake Shelton. It's a pretty cool deal. Race fans can come from anywhere. Tickets are easy to get a hold of. Information is easy to get a hold of. Just go to elliottsadler.com. It's all for charity. The second reason why we do it is to give fans the opportunity to do something they don't have the opportunity to do and that is to come to a driver's house and enjoy great country music. It should be a lot of fun.
Q: WHAT'S THE EXPERIENCE LIKE WHEN YOU'RE ON THE BUBBLE OF MAKING THE CHASE?
A: I remember that 2005 season like it happened yesterday. That ought to tell you how much a driver thinks about it -- a team thinks about it. Coming in for your last chance (to make the Chase), you've got to hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth. It's that kind of mentality that you've got to have. My teammate (Kasey Kahne) is going through it right now -- with being over 40- points out coming into Richmond. Not only is he racing against one guy, but kind of racing against two guys. Not only are you worried about what you're doing the whole night as a driver and the things that you're tying to take care of, but also the guys that you're racing against. I know how tough it was. I still remember who I was racing against. Ryan Newman in the 12 car that night was the guy that I had to outrun and I think Jamie McMurray in the 42 car. I still remember the two guys I had to race against. It's just a tough week. It's a, "Man, I can't believe we're in this situation. We've got a great chance at making it (the Chase), but maybe we're not making it". It's just a gut-wrenching week as far as nerves. I understand what these drivers are going through. There's nothing fun about coming to Richmond on the outside looking in or even on the bubble knowing you have to be mistake free to make your way to the Chase. But I think that's what's great about the Chase and the reason that I like it so much -- making guys race so hard each and every week.
Q: HOW HAS THIS CHASE CUT-OFF CHANGED THE ENTIRE TENOR OF THE RICHMOND RACE OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS?
A: It makes Richmond a top-three or four race in the season because everyone is focusing on this one race -- who's in and who's out -- and it seems like every year of the Chase, the top-12 haven't been set until after this race. We've had a lot of dramatic finishes and situations that have happened in the past that keep making this race such a big focal point of the season. It has made this race that much more popular with the fans, media, teams and sponsors. You're trying to make your way into the top-12 just to have that chance of running for a championship and feeling like you've used your mulligan to get back in the game because of the points being there. I think that it's a great race track for that; it's a good racing track. A lot of action can happen (at Richmond) in 400 laps. It's kind of a tight track. Things can happen pretty quickly there; I think it's a really good race track to have the last race before the Chase starts. I think it's a pretty exciting short-track event. I think we'll see some different things happen this Saturday night.
Q: HOW DO YOU THINK THE WEATHER WILL IMPACT THE DRIVER AND CREW CHIEFS?
A: I just think that is another loop that's thrown into the event this weekend because now there's not much practice (looking ahead to Friday). It doesn't look like the Cup cars will be having much practice. So now you'll be going back to your spring notes -- you look at who ran good here in the spring and how much can you learn from that race. You don't know what the weather is going to do and it just drags it out a little bit longer. It's going to be on the pit crew's minds a little longer. They may have to stay over and race Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday night. As a crew chief, do you set your car where it will run better at night or run better in the day time? It just adds to it. We don't know what's going to happen.
It's suppose to rain here Friday and a little bit Saturday, so qualifying and practice...probably not much is going to happen on Friday. Now you get to start pretty close to who you have to race around, so it will make it that much more interesting.
Q: FROM A DRIVER'S PERSPECITVE, IS THE PERCEPTION OF CARL EDWARDS AND KYLE BUSH DIFFERENT IN THE GARAGE THAN THAT OF THE FANS?
A: I think it's definitely a rivalry. I think that they have definitely created one because they feel, if you talk to them, they are the ones to beat for the Chase. The 99 feels like their biggest competition is the 18, Kyle Busch feels like his toughest competition is the 99. We have seen from on-track incidents and hard racing that neither of them is going to give an inch. So they definitely have their own rivalry going and I think that it fuels the fire that much more by some of the comments that were made after the (Bristol) race. I think it's great for our sport and I think it's great for the Chase. I just think that you have two hard-nose racecar drivers who are going to race each other and feel like they have to beat each other for the championship. The way it happened, I don't think either of them is a dirty driver. I just think both of them are going to race you hard to do whatever they have to do to win races and we saw that at Bristol.
Q: DO YOU THINK FANS WOULD BE SURPRISED THAT KYLE BUSH IS AS REPSECTED AS HE IS IN THE GARAGE AMONGST HIS PEERS?
A: There's definitely a different perception in the garage. I don't think as a driver, among our peers, either one of them is looked upon as a dirty, dirty driver. I think they're looked upon as drivers that will move you (out of position) to win a race. And as a driver, you know that you can race them like that. You look at the difference at how Jeff Burton and Kyle Bush raced each other for the first COT win ever (at Bristol) as compared to how Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch raced each other. It's just differences in how you race each other. It's just different people will race you differently as you come down to the closing laps. As you race against these guys -- as our peers -- you know how you can race certain guys.
Q: DOES YOUR ATHLETIC ABILITY TRANSLATE TO DRIVING RACECARS?
A: After playing six sports in high school, being pretty good and getting college scholarships -- I think that it carries over a lot. As far as being in shape, my body is used to being punished. Going through a game is like going through a race. Teamwork -- where you're being a leader and you're representing not only what you're doing in a racecar but what you're guys are doing on pit road. I think there are mental and physical gains to be some kind of athlete doing some other sports before you get in a racecar. You have so many people now in NASCAR that started racing at such an early age, their body physically and mentally have been put through the test so many times that when you get to this level, the body has already been tortured and put through the ringer. They're use to it just like any other sport. I definitely think that being an athlete, being a part of it at such an early age, definitely carries over to what you do now on the race track.
Q: ARE THE GUYS THAT HAVE GOOD DRIVER/CREW CHIEF COMMUNICATION THE ONES THAT ARE HAVING A BETTER HANDLE OF THESE CARS?
A: I think that there is a lot of truth to that because these cars are so much harder to work on and adjust to. There is so much of a fine line that the crew chief and the driver have to be on the same page. When the driver says, "It's too loose," the crew chief really needs to know how much it's too loose and you kind of feed off of that. It doesn't take as much adjustment on these new cars to make it way to loose or way too tight as it did the other car. You're working in a much smaller box. So there's some truth to making sure these guys are on the same page and making sure the communication and dialogue is better. The crew chief has to know exactly what the driver thinks to try and fine tune these things during the race.
Q: WHY HAS RICHMOND BEEN DIFFICULT FOR YOU AND HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING BECAUSE IT SO CLOSE TO HOME?
A: Rodney (Childers, Team Director) and I joked about it in California where we took a car that we were trying to get on the pole with and we drew number two (qualifying position). Going out early there in qualifying is never a good thing. I said, 'Probably when we get to Richmond, we'll draw in the thirties for qualifying at a place that I need a Garmin to get around because I'm so bad," -- so we laughed and joked about it. I don't know why (Richmond) isn't a track that fits my driving style. I have just not figured out the best way I need to get around there. It would be like playing golf. If I hit a big hook right-to-left and played a golf course with a lot of left-to-right holes on it, I wouldn't be very good on it. But if we had a straight course with big fairways and everything was right-to-left, I'd play a lot better. For some reason, I don't know why, I don't get around Richmond as good as I should. There's no secret about it. I've talked to my teammate (Kasey Kahne) about it a lot. He gets around there really well. I just mentally haven't found the right groove and right way to get around that place. It's tough because it (the track) is at home and I want to do so well. I just don't feel as comfortable going to Richmond as I do at Bristol or Charlotte or Texas or places like that. I'm still working on it, so hopefully we'll get better at it.
-credit: dodge motorsports