Brickyard 400 Post-Qualifying Press Conference Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004 Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton, Brian Vickers ELLIOTT SADLER: We've had some little problems here, there, but we've been very consistently around the top 12 or 13 every ...
Brickyard 400 Post-Qualifying Press Conference
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004
Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton, Brian Vickers
ELLIOTT SADLER: We've had some little problems here, there, but we've been very consistently around the top 12 or 13 every single week. That's how you build on a championship type team. Todd is just absolutely amazing. He's got this team working so hard. Every time we get to the racetrack on Fridays, we're just so fast and it's so much fun to drive for these guys. M&M's have been so supportive. Robert and Doug in the engine shop working their butts off. Man, it's just been great. I'm living the time of my life right now, just having a good time with each other. My pit crew is leading the McDonald's Pit Crew Challenge. We got a lot of good stuff going on. We're still under everybody's radar. It's been a lot of fun, which has taken a lot of pressure off us. We're just doing the job we think we needed to. We just want to be in that final 10. When we get to that point, it's pretty much take the gloves off and let's go after it.
MODERATOR: You won't be under the radar much longer you make that chase for the NEXTEL Cup. If you're in the Top 10, there will be a lot of media exposure. Questions for Elliott Sadler.
Q: You're sixth in points currently. To what extent, this being the Brickyard 400, would you be willing to risk that position for a win tomorrow?
SADLER: I'm probably the worst points race there is. I really pay attention to it a lot. Every Sunday night, Monday morning after the race, I know exactly how many points I'm ahead of the next guy, how many I'm behind the next guy, how many positions I need to finish in front of him. I do all the math. I'm bored on Monday so I got to do a lot of math to figure out what's going on. This weekend I could care less about points. We came to kiss the bricks. That's pretty much our motto this week. When we built this car, we built it for this race, for this racetrack, Todd did. He's won a couple times here with DJ. Points, just no matter. We're going to turn the motor, whatever RPM we feel we need to turn to be competitive. We're going to put whatever setup in the car we need to be competitive. Points, we'll worry about them Monday, for next week for Watkins Glen. This week, this race is so prestigious to so many different sponsors and teams, there's so much history here at this racetrack and with the George family, we want to try to win this race no matter what is takes.
Q: How did you do in the golf tournament yesterday morning?
SADLER: I had a great week so far at Indy. I was able to win the golf tournament yesterday morning that the speedway put on, and then to qualify third for the race. Things are going good. So I kind of might stay in Indy for a little while if things keep going this way. It's the first time I actually got to play the golf course. I got to play it Thursday, and I got to play it again yesterday for the shootout. We were able to win. I got to play with Darren Manning, who drives on the IRL circuit. He's a great guy. I definitely got a new friend and a new person to pull for in the IRL series. I definitely enjoyed playing golf with him yesterday. We had a good time. It's been fun.
Q: Bobby Labonte was also talking about staying underneath the radar. What are the benefits of staying under the radar in the points chase? What would be the benefit of that?
SADLER: Just no pressure, really. I mean, just the only pressure on our race team is put on by ourself, not really the media or anything like that. Y'all are so busy talking about the same two cars all year long, we're just kind of hanging out, racing, and doing what we need to do. I think it's fun. We just working hard. My guys, makes us more determined to be a factor in every race that we go to. It's been good. I got the best crew chief in the world as far as being competitive and keeping our guys fired up and on the same page. Before Casey Mears ran today and sat on the pole, I thought it would be funny, the two slowest-talking guys from Virginia would be on the front row today. I thought that would have been cool. Good job.
Q: Talk about that, two guys from a small Virginia town making great racing history. The whole aspect of two gentlemen from the fine state of Virginia, small towns, steeped in racing tradition here at Indy, arguably the greatest racetrack in America.
SADLER: Yeah, I think it's great. I mean, Ward and I grew up pretty much about 40 minutes apart. We both kind of cut our teeth at South Boston Speedway, Orange County, late model stock cars, kind of knew the same people growing up. I think we learned a lot racing at those tracks. South Boston was probably one of the toughest places to race. Instead of running 25- and 50-lap features, we were running 150- and 200-lap features. You had to learn to drive your car on old tires. A lot of great drivers have come from that area. I remember watching Ward drive the 12 car there many times, going to watch those guys race. It's just a great area to come from. Him and his brother, Ricky, people like Ricky Rudd have definitely set a great path for Virginia drivers to come up through. A guy last night in the truck race made his first truck race debut, Denny Hamlin's from that same area. I think he's going to be another one to look out for. We got some great drivers in that area. They kind of following the lead of Ward and Jeff and Ricky. It's been cool to really come up through that part of the country.
MODERATOR: Before Ward answers that question, in the NetZero Hi Speed Chevrolet qualified second with 185.391. Fantastic effort. Why don't you address that, coming from South Virginia, being here at Indy, what this means to you to qualify so well, No. 2.
WARD BURTON: It means a lot. Comes at a good time for all of us with the NetZero team. We're trying to, you know, build for the future. We made some changes in the last couple weeks that's definitely getting the light brighter at the end of the tunnel. This is another, you know, example of that. But back home, you know, most of all of us live in the Charlotte area. Elliott and I have both chose to stay where our heritage and our roots feel true to ourselves. I'm not going ever to say "never," because the older you get, you learn not to do that. But the chances of me leaving, leaving old Virginia, are very slim. I think Elliott's the same way. It is fun to be able to see, you know, even though I'm a little bit older than Elliott, you know, our parents have made a big difference in our lives as well as a lot of other people to get us to this point. We didn't do this on our own. There's a lot of talented people out there, but you got to be around people that support you and help you. You also got to be around racetracks that you learn from some of the best. My heroes were the Barry Begleys and Maurice Hills of the world. They were guys, when I came to Winston Cup, at that time I looked up to the Dale Srs. in the world. I had the same folks back home, I'm sure Elliott did too. It means a lot to see Elliott and his brother and other folks that come from that area and do well.
MODERATOR: The only tradition that got you today was the Mears family tradition.
SADLER: The Mears family has done a great job here at Indy.
BURTON: He did. He kicked it good. Kicked me by 2/10ths. He was on a roll last week, too. So I think it's two poles in a row for him. The two tracks, I guess, are a little bit similar. But Casey is a good guy. Casey is one of the guys that's going to be in this sport for a long time. He's a good kid. I'm glad for him.
Q: Are you still living in Virginia?
SADLER: I still live in Virginia. I have an apartment or whatever in Charlotte. I still live in Virginia. I love being around my family. I love being around where I was raised at. Kind of the same reasons Ward does, we both like the outdoors so much. We're both pretty much outdoorsmen, do a lot of hunting and fishing and stuff in the wintertime, in our time off. Can't really do that in downtown Charlotte. I love my family a lot. I love being around my mom and dad. I love being with my brother and my sister, and my four nieces mean more to me than anything. If I live in Charlotte, that's time I can't speed spend with them in Virginia.
Q: Obviously, starting up front here is important, this is a track-position track. Are there guys, as you look at the lineup, guys towards the back, that you're concerned about seeing working their way through?
SADLER: Yeah, I mean, track position is very important. Track position is the No. 1 thing to help you win a race. There's no better way to start that on Friday or on qualifying day any weekend. We don't have to really take the chances on pit strategy some of the other guys might have to take to try to get ourselves up to the front because we're ready there. The 9 and 19 are running good last few races. The 48 and the 24, no matter where those guys are, the 17, no matter where he starts at, the 97, those guys are coming to the front. Some guys are going to use different types of pit strategy, probably two tires their first stop, things like that, to try to get track position. You are going to have the same old guys running up front that you had I think last week. Hopefully we'll just be one of them to kind of be consistent, stay up front, see what happens.
Q: Ward, who are you looking for?
BURTON: Shoot, there's 42 of them other than us two (laughter). You got to look for a whole lot of different things. I think the other thing y'all know, too, the qualifying setup and race setup are a little bit two different animals. Even though some of the qualifying setup we have on the car today, we will use like a shock absorber, we are going to have a work a lot on the cars coming up here the next hour or so. It could change a lot of things. Guy that's starting dead last or close to it could be the car to beat come tomorrow. We just got to work hard today.
MODERATOR: Elliott, congratulations. Another solid showing. We'll see you tomorrow. Ward, why don't you take us through your qualifying effort. Obviously, you had the benefit of starting early on. That seemed to be beneficial. Take us through your qualifying run. Did you sense at that time not only it was going to be good enough to be No. 2 but also breaking the track record?
BURTON: You know, yesterday in practice, we had some shocks on the car that made the car pick up a bounce in the middle of the corner. That bounce would send me up the track. So we changed our package with the shocks. That's really what picked our car up because that's about the only thing we changed. Getting up to speed was good. Going through one, two, three was pretty much uneventful. Was able to drive in pretty deep, get on the gas pretty quick. Car was real stable. Got into four and picked up a push and did the same way yesterday. I don't think I lost two and a half tenths to Casey off that corner, but I did lose a little bit off that corner. It looked like to me from the film, Casey was in the gas just a little bit harder all the way around the racetrack than the rest of us. That's where he beat us at.
MODERATOR: You were speaking earlier when you first walked in about what this means to your team to be qualified up here, maybe get the momentum going over the rest of the course of the season. Obviously, I assume that this must be a real confidence booster also for your crew, for your team, to be starting in the No. 2 spot for the Brickyard 400.
BURTON: It is. You know, we made some pretty significant personnel changes three weeks ago. Respect and feel like even the people that are no longer with us add a lot to our team, and we lost some when we made changes. At the same time the direction that we're going now, we're using all of the available resources. The sport has changed so much in the last really three years that if you don't use all your resources, and if you don't have an open mind and are willing to listen and learn and whatever position you are, you're going to fall behind. The sport has changed so much that we're seeing even experience in some ways is not as important as it used to be because the cars are so important and the attitude of the cars and having the right support group, which is allowing basically someone like a Casey Mears to come in from nowhere a year ago and sit on two poles in a row. We didn't see that three or four years ago. So the changing of the guard, not really the changing, but as the sport is evolving, it's going through some changes, and it's going on right in front of us. I got to add one thing. There's two words out there this week called "hot seat" that I been on all week. Of course, I wouldn't even known about it if it hadn't been for my wife. But it's amazing to me sometimes the ability that y'all have and the job that y'all have to make things look negative or positive. There's a lot of y'all out there that we, being in the limelight, trust, OK? When that trust is discarded, when that trust is what's the right word for it? violated, it really makes the relationship between the media and the ones that you're interviewing questionable, whether you're going to get an honest answer. You know, I'm not going to bring up the individual's name, but you don't want to lose that trust because we all have a job to do. And you don't want to create a story just for the hell of creating a story. And I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm an angel in any way, but I do know that I'm someone that you can trust, and I th ink we need to be able to trust y'all, too.
MODERATOR: With that, Ward Burton, thank you.