Continued from part 1 ELLIOTT SADLER DID THIS RACE LIVE UP TO THE DARLINGTON TRADITION? "I don't know. I think it's hard to replace a tradition with one race. I think California Speedway can make their own tradition and make their own racing.
Continued from part 1
DID THIS RACE LIVE UP TO THE DARLINGTON TRADITION?
"I don't know. I think it's hard to replace a tradition with one race. I think California Speedway can make their own tradition and make their own racing. We definitely have great support from the fans here in Southern California this weekend, but I don't think you can replace a tradition in one race. I don't think you can even put that in the same sentence. Darlington was a big cornerstone of our sport and still is, but I am happy to win the first Labor Day race here at California. That means my name will be in the books for a long, long time. It's fun when you're on top. You're gonna say good things about the track and about the weekend, and what went on out here. But I would say California Speedway has a tough job ahead of them to make this Labor Day race as special as it has been in the past, but they've definitely got the people and the facility to do it. The track puts on great racing. We can race two and three-wide as you saw tonight, so I think they can build their own tradition and hopefully be here a long time."
WHAT HAS THE PRESSURE BEEN LIKE THE LAST FEW WEEKS AND WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE FOR THOSE WHO NEED TO RACE THEIR WAY IN AT RIR?
"I think Richmond is one of the toughest races to go race to go clinch into something because it's such a tight race track. We saw a lot of wrecks there the first race and you slide around a lot. It offers a lot of two-wide racing, but it's such a tight track, so I do feel sorry for the guys that have to race to get in but that's part of the game. I think that's why they put Richmond at the end like that. As far as pressure, the reason Todd is laughing is that he's had to calm me down the last two months. I've been about to throw up before every race - just wanting to finish, wanting to run every lap. At Indy I was a nervous wreck. Last week at Bristol I was just white as a ghost before the race started. He's trying to calm me down. I blew my uniform out. I just had all kinds of problems last week before the Bristol race. That's why he's laughing because the last month has been like a circus around me. I've wanted this so much. I've been in racing a couple years now and I never got to go to the Waldorf. My sponsor has been in racing 14 years and they never won a race, let alone be in the top 10 in points. Mike Murphy was here tonight, the guy that got M&M's started and it was his first time in victory lane in 14 years of trying, so to be able to give back to people like that. Heck yeah, the pressure is off a little bit right now. I can relax this week."
HOW DO YOU BLOW OUT YOUR UNIFORM?
"Look, I was so doggone nervous before Bristol. I don't even know. I was trying to zip it up and it didn't zip. I had to race the whole Bristol race with my uniform open. I had to duct tape it up. I had a big mess. Todd's trying to calm me down because he's been there, done that. That's what helps me. He's been in this championship race and won one and won races, and I'm over here about to cry every week because I'm so nervous. So he's keeping me calm and it works out good."
WHAT WAS IT GOING FROM SUNSHINE TO DARKNESS?
"One thing I did learn today is I will have a lot more tape on my windshield going into that back straightaway for next year's race. I couldn't even see half of the race down the back straightaway. I didn't have enough tape on. I ran a semi-dark shield, which just had a really good glare in it, but I could see really well at night. It's called a smoke shield, but the lighting system was great because I did have a dark shield on and the lighting was fine. The track did change. I think you saw guys that really hauled butt at the beginning of the race maybe struggle at the end. I knew as loose as my car was, but as much front grip as the car had in the daytime that I was gonna be pretty good come night time. We probably had the third or fourth-best car on long runs, but I think we had the best car on a 15-20 lap shootout. We got in the right track position and it paid out. I think we learned a lot as a team this weekend. I think everybody did and kind of know what we've got to do to start next year's race."
HOW DID YOU FEEL AT NOON YESTERDAY WHEN YOU SPUN THE CAR AROUND TWICE? JEFF GORDON WAS RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
"Yeah, Gordon came up to me and said that smoke was everywhere. He went left to miss me and barely did. I said, 'Jeff, that's why you're a four-time Nextel Cup champion. You know how to miss people.' So we laughed about it, but it was not a laughing matter at the time. We had the car so good yesterday morning. We didn't really mess with it and the track got really slick. I was a little loose and thought I could hang onto it, but I got behind some other cars and just took the wind off my spoiler. Like I told Todd, I just ran out of talent. It was too loose for me to drive. 'Todd, you've got to tighten this thing up. I'm not talented enough to drive it this loose,' so that's pretty much what we did. We came in and struggled yesterday afternoon in the beginning part of practice and then he put a setup in there that we hit on and we liked it in the last five minutes of practice and it worked out for us today. But I was scared to death because we've got a brand new car in the trailer that's never been raced or practiced or anything, so if I would have messed this one up I probably maybe would not be here sitting with you tonight, but everything worked out good."
HOW DID YOU STAY FOCUSSED THROUGH LAST YEAR?
"Last year we got off to a good start and then we had some things separating with the team - a lot of changes. I was trying to do too much. I was trying to carry the load too much. Poor Raymond Fox was kind of thrown into the Lion's Den with a rookie crew chief and no car chief or no engineering help at all, and here I am with my first year on the team trying to get used to these motors and different styles of cars. I was trying to do too much. I was driving over my head and was really just frustrated and when you're a frustrated driver, you're not a really good race car driver. We talked about that this weekend - Todd and I did - about a lot of stuff we need to work on during the race to make me more comfortable and he did a good job tonight. I was very frustrated because I had big plans and big pictures when I came over here to Robert Yates Racing and this year is what I expected how we would run last year. I think we're showing everybody now that we've got our teams together. We've got a great bunch of guys and we're showing it. We're still the only team in racing without a DNF and we're running a lot of laps and we're running up front a lot of laps. We've been qualifying good and been fast off the truck every Friday and we've got a lot of confidence in each other and it's paying off."
YOU'VE PICKED IT UP OF LATE.
"I think we just really understood and knew what we had to do to get in the top 10. We know we have a great race team. We have a great engine program. We have a great chassis shop, car building. Elliott, like he said, he's driving so much smarter now. He doesn't have to worry about much stuff going on, making all the calls and stuff. We're just doing what we know how to do. We're racers. We come out here to race. We work hard. We have a great time. I think that's the most important thing - this race team has a good time. We laugh. We cut up and we just have a good time. But, like I said, when it comes time to race we know what our job is and we just do it. I think that's a big reason why we're here."
"I think we're catching our stride. We're getting our cars better as the year goes on and we're getting more and more knowing what we need. We're just unloading so fast every Friday. We're not having to change a lot of stuff. Our motor program - Doug Yates and those guys on the motor program are getting better and better and better. I think you can tell with the way the 6 has been running, the 97 and the 16 here lately. It's a lot of fun working with this team and we're just getting better and better and better. We think we're hitting our stride right now and think we've got a lot to offer here in the final 10 races. I can't wait to get going. I'm like a pit bull chomping at the bit. I'm ready to get going. I'm ready to race. I'm ready to be only five points away from the guy in front of me and let's let it all hang out. Let's do some racing because Todd's got me some great race cars lined up that nobody has seen yet this year and we think they're gonna be fast."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH ELLIOTT'S NERVOUSNESS?
"I think it's great. I think it's cool to see the intensity in his face and somebody who cares about what they're doing and what they want so bad. I know the feeling. I've been there before. I've been about to throw up many times at many races and just to see it and to have the experience, to be able to work with him and all the guys on this team it's fun. It's cool. A lot of the credit goes to my dad. A lot of the things that he taught me about racing and how to act and how to treat people and just what to do in pressure situations. I'm having a great time. It's been so much fun to watch him the last two months. He doesn't know it, but I've had a great time."
HOW DO YOU NOT LET THAT NERVOUSNESS GET TO YOU NOW?
"I think it's gonna be more fun. I swear, I think the pressure came getting in because I have never been to New York. Hey man, I am going to New York. I'm going on stage. My sponsor is going. The pressure is off. We've done all the hard work. We're racing now with nothing to lose. We're racing to win and I think the pressure is gonna be a lot less. I think we're gonna just go and have fun. We're gonna race. We're in the chase. That's our goal. We've met our goal. I don't think he's gonna change what we're doing, but I think we're just gonna go and have fun and I think the pressure is gonna be a lot less because we're in the show. We have made it. We have nothing to lose. We're gonna go and have fun and race hard and whatever happens happens."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO HELP DJ AT RICHMOND?
"They went and tested. They have a really good race car. We're taking a new car, but there's nothing really we can do. He's got to out-race the guys he's racing against. I think he's a little better driver at Richmond than I am. They tested there and they were really happy with their car, but I can't go out there and do stupid things against the people he's racing. That's not racing. You want to race your way into this. That's what the point system is for. I've got a lot of good friends in this sport and I don't think nobody would stoop that low to do something like that."