IMS post-qualifying press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Either one of you, Owensboro having two of the top three spots in this race, a comment from either one of you? WALTRIP: I'm glad it was us. MAYFIELD: I don't know what to say. I mean, this is kind of like the ...

Continued from part 1

Q: Either one of you, Owensboro having two of the top three spots in this race, a comment from either one of you?

WALTRIP: I'm glad it was us.

MAYFIELD: I don't know what to say. I mean, this is kind of like the closest place for us, being from Owensboro, is Indianapolis. I don't know, it's pretty cool that both of us are in the top three like that starting here. They always ask us what's in the water and stuff. We don't really know that either, do we?

WALTRIP: Nicky Hayden is the big story in Owensboro. He won the Moto GP race at Laguna Seca. First American to win one of those in a while.

There's a lot of cool things that come out of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Q: Michael, in addition to the trophy looking good between the two Daytonas, the prestige of the event, would it be sort of the ultimately satisfying swansong for you on the way out at DEI to add this to the two Daytona 500s with this team?

WALTRIP: Honestly, I don't feel that swan thing right now. We have a half a year ago. Tony Jr. and I committed to one year that we would race our rear ends off till the last race of the year.

I think at Atlanta or Homestead, where we wind up, then it will be special to have it. But right now it would just mean that we would battle ourselves back into a position to be a part of the Chase. If you'll look at three of the last four races, I blew tires at Chicago and Daytona, while running really well. And Biffle blew one last Sunday while I was race forget top six or seven spots. You take those three events out of it, I'm right there where I need to be.

I've just fallen onto some hard times here lately. But we're certainly thinking our car performs well enough that we can at least make a run at it.

Q: Michael, I hate to ask this of you, but given where you're at right now, if a situation developed that you may have an opportunity for a long-term situation, would you leave now as opposed to staying the rest of the season with DEI?

WALTRIP: No, I would not ever do that no matter what. I mean, I would leave if they ran me off. I wouldn't hang around there. I wouldn't go, I wouldn't do anything that would jeopardize what NAPA has put behind me and that team and what the contracts say that I will do. I can't imagine a scenario that you could paint that would, that I would leave that place.

MODERATOR: Thanks, gentlemen, for coming in. Hope you have a great race tomorrow.

MAYFIELD: I'd like to thank NASCAR and NEXTEL and everybody. They do such a great job.

WALTRIP: My flat tires were no result or fault of Goodyear. Thank them for what they do, too.

MODERATOR: We're now joined in the media center by our pole winner, Elliott Sadler.

Elliott, you had a great pole today. You were ninth in final practice. With a third-place finish here last year, what is it going to take to beat that?

SADLER: I don't know. The guys have definitely brought the race car to beat that. It's amazingly fast, and was when we tested here. I never get amazed by Todd Parrott's intuition about this racetrack. He's so smart. He just knows what the car needs and wants. They did it again today. We were just very fast right off the truck. It was a lot of fun to drive.

We definitely got the car to beat I think for tomorrow. I got to make some good decisions on the racetrack and race hard and make some good pit stops, and we should be in great shape for tomorrow.

MODERATOR: We'll open it up for our Bud pole winner.

Q: Obviously, a lot of people want to talk to you after that lap. Seemed like you lingered on pit road. After the last few weeks, were you savoring having something good to celebrate or was it also being on the pole at the Brickyard?

SADLER: Being on the pole in the Brickyard is one step closer to a dream. I think it's pretty neat to be able to hand the pole trophy over to Robert Yates, to be able to sit on the pole here. Really want to kiss the bricks. That was our mindset when we decided to come here this week. After our test session, we're not talking about points, we're not worried about the Chase tomorrow, we want to kiss those bricks. Whatever we got to do to try to make that happen is what Todd and I are going to do.

We had a rough July. I'm glad July is over with. Seems like as soon as August come in, we are right back where we need to be. We got a tough six weeks left, we know that. We got some good tracks coming up for us, some tracks maybe we struggled a little bit before. To come here and be this fast and have this much confidence is great for me as a driver because I've been down as you can get after Loudon. You know, this is good for me. It's good for Todd. It's good for the team to kind of come out here, set the pace with a great run. We really think we got a great car for tomorrow, too.

Q: Is this a lineup sort of what you see is what you get because of the impound? Is everybody today running a race setup, I guess?

SADLER: I would guess so. I mean, especially everybody in the points. Definitely you can't afford to be struggling that much in the race. Everybody's got a pure race setup in, with a few adjustments here or there for qualifying. Maybe some one-off teams that are just trying to get in for one show might have a little bit more qualifying stuff in it. Everybody that we need to race I think for the win tomorrow is definitely in race trim.

Q: You gave an indication sort of that the Yates engines are back at this place, yet where the two Evernham cars qualified right together, you and DJ were quite a ways apart. What was the difference or discrepancy?

SADLER: I'm not sure. I think DJ's car was never good in qualifying trim even when he was here testing, but was really good in race trim. I still think we both got a lot of motor. I ran with some cars this morning in practice and felt my motor was better or just as good or better than any of them and ran with some really good race cars.

I think Evernham's team has definitely run good here in the past with Bill Elliott winning. Evernham won here a few times himself with Jeff. They got some great notes and things to go off of. They're going to be tough.

As far as our motor program, I just feel the motor I got here this weekend is real good. Seems like our motor program always peaks about Indy. I haven't seen Doug Yates in the last two months. I think he has been locked up in a room getting these engines ready. I think if you talk to any of the Roush guys, too, I think they're going to be really happy with the package that the engine shop brought here this weekend, and we should be fine in the race with it.

Q: Elliott, you and DJ are both down there clinging to your positions to stay in the Chase. You have Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield out there in kind of that whole mix. How much more important is this going to be for you looking down the road here in six weeks?

SADLER: Yeah, I mean, we just got to run good at each and every race. We sat down after Pocono and pretty much said if we just go race our races and not try to get caught up in any kind of DNFs or any kind of stupid stuff like that, we should be fine for the Chase. We got a good enough race team to make the Chase. I think I got a great pit crew, one of the best ones on pit road.

So, you know, I know everybody else is talking about the 24 and the 8, some of these guys trying to make the Chase. There's a lot of good teams trying to make it, a lot of good teams still in it. Only so many pieces of the pie. I'm not going to worry myself with it. I'm just going to do what the 38 needs to do, what our team needs to do. If we just take care of ourselves, I think we'll be fine. I learned that in the Chase last year, I was too worried about what everybody else was doing and ended up shooting myself in the foot during the Chase. I'm not going to worry about that this year. I'm just going to worry about what our team needs to do to be successful and get the most points we can. I think that's the best we can be. I could really care less the way anybody else runs. I know if we do our job, we should be a part of the Chase for the Cup.

Q: Going back to the engines again, Mark Martin has been quoted as saying that the Yates horsepower is so amazing that he wished he had it the last three or four years. He says it's great to have a rocket ship now. Is that a two-way street? Is there some things from Roush that have helped the Yates people out this year? If it is a two-way street, that has happened, are there things that have helped you out?

SADLER: I'm sure it's going both ways in the engine shop. I'm sure Doug, Jack, all the guys are working hard, putting all of their notes together. The end result we're getting is amazing. Our cars have been running, the way Kurt Busch ran at Pocono, I know his car was handling, he was going in the straightaway, too. But it is fun to drive Yates Racing cars.

I remember the first day when I first signed with Robert Yates and got to go drive the 28 at Kentucky, man, holy cow, it was amazing. A big grin came on my face, thinking I can't wait to get in one of these cars each and every week. They focus so much on horsepower. Today, as fast as we were during practice, Doug Yates was still working on that motor each and every time we come in, tuning it as best he could with jets and timing and fuel and everything.

I just love driving a race car for people that are racers, and Robert and Doug Yates are racers, they're motor guys. Just makes it a lot of fun to be able to do that.

Q: Roush spends a lot of times with his bodies in the wind tunnel. Do you benefit from that as well?

SADLER: We're work on that. We're not probably benefiting as much from their body situation as they are maybe from Doug's motor stuff. We're working on that. I think with the new fusion, you're going to see more Roush Yates working together to make sure we get that thing right before we go to Daytona next year. We know we're going to have to do some massaging, there's going to be some growing pains with that type of car. We know the more minds we put together, the better we're going to be with that.

Q: Strategically speaking, at this racetrack, what is the importance of the pole? Is it pit selection?

SADLER: It's definitely track position. Last year I qualified here third and was able to get in the lead pretty quick and got to race Jeff for the lead a lot. Track position magnifies at this place because we have the valances on the ground, we got the spoilers way up in the air. We are going to get aero push because there's no banking to make the car turn. We run so fast around here now with this new grip, I think it's all magnified.

To be able to start on the pole, whether we lead the first lap or not, is better than being 30-something where you have to fight through traffic and things like that. I learned so much last year racing with Jeff Gordon on what he was doing on restarts to make sure he could get his car into clean air, I worked on my car a lot for the test for that reason to try to do a little bit of the same thing. I think track position's more important than anything.

Pit selection, yes, is important, have an opening, whether it be in front of you, behind you. Whoever is leading this race with 10 or 15 laps to go is going to be a very hard man to pass.

Q: Four tires every stop?

SADLER: We're going to get four tires every stop. The way our tire wear is doing, I would think, unless there's an eight- or nine-lap shootout, you might have to get two, something like that, to mix it up a little bit. The way the tires are wearing, we're going to try to stick with four tires. That way we know we'll be there at the end.

Q: May seem like ancient history, but both Todd and Robert, they're multiple winners of this race. Talk about knowing that fact, even though it was back in the '90s, how much does that help you?

SADLER: I think what helped me the most was Dale Jarrett, my first time I came here, I was driving this place all wrong. He was just where I need to be on the gas and off the gas, where I need to be in the steering and off the steering. He helped me so much as a driver, OK, now to understand what I need to be looking for, then I can relate to Raymond Fox, my first-year crew chief, now Todd Parrott. Todd has a great understanding here. Seems like we hit it off every time we come here.

We qualified third last year and finished third. Those guys have been successful here. Todd, if he knew how to do any kind of gas mileage at all, should have four or five rings here. I would love to try to get him another ring tomorrow, which means I'll get one. I definitely think I got the best crew chief for this racetrack. He just really understands this racetrack unbelievably.

I think I got a good teacher and a good coach with Dale Jarrett. Just want to try to put all the pieces together and kiss those bricks. It's a dream come true. Winning here at the Brickyard is like winning the Daytona 500. It makes or breaks a career. I really believe that deep down inside. And I would love to do it. You heard Tony Stewart say he would trade in his championship for a win at this place. I think a lot of people are in the same shoes he's in.

Q: You have a fast car immediately. You haven't had to struggle, play catch-up or anything like that. Your confidence is back now, seems to be. Going into tomorrow's race, does this remind you of any position you've been in before in your career?

SADLER: You know what, it reminds me a lot of being here last year. We had a fast race car here last year and I just got out-drove by Jeff Gordon, I mean, period. So I really learned some things from that, jotted it down. We came back to test, there's some different things I wanted to try in my car to make sure I could do different things on the racetrack that Jeff was able to do.

But I feel last year before we took the green flag, I felt like I had the car to beat. We were very disappointed with third place. This year, from the very first lap I made in test session, we had the car to beat, period. It has nothing to do with the driver, just the equipment. They've been working on this race car for four-and-a-half months to get ready for this one race. Doug Yates has been working on this engine for a little bit under two months to get ready for this one particular race.

I almost feel like I'm in the same boat I was last year, but I got a little more firepower than what I had. I just got to make the most of it.

MODERATOR: Thanks very much for coming in. Good luck. Hopefully we'll see you tomorrow.

SADLER: Thank you.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Nicky Hayden , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin
Teams Yates Racing