Hermie Sadler, driver of the No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus, qualified for his second straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race and third of the season with Friday's performance. The Virginia native, who will start 38th, has been coming to Martinsville...
Hermie Sadler, driver of the No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus, qualified for his second straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race and third of the season with Friday's performance. The Virginia native, who will start 38th, has been coming to Martinsville for many years. He spoke about what this track means to him before Saturday's practice session and happy hour.
HERMIE SADLER - No. 66 Peak Fitness Taurus
FIRST OF ALL, DID YOU MAKE ANYBODY MAD AT BRISTOL LAST WEEK?
"I hope not. I just got run over a couple of times, but that happens at Bristol. I think for the most part that when things happen at Bristol people react and say things, but in reality everybody knows when you get out there that things are gonna happen. I don't think anybody ever really wrecks anybody intentionally - the first time anyway (laughing). I was pretty much done on lap two and then I was out of the way the rest of the day, so I think I'm OK this weekend."
AS A VIRGINIA NATIVE WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO MAKE THIS RACE?
"I love this track. We started running here in Late Models a long time ago and it's one of the places that we feel like we can come to and be pretty competitive. It was kind of a different scenario for me yesterday as a driver because in most of the qualifying sessions I knew I had to drive over my head or run a lot faster than we had run in practice to make it. Yesterday, I just had to back up what I did so I was probably a little bit more conservative than I would have liked, but I knew if we just ran a good, solid, consistent lap that we'd be in the show. That was the most important thing. We need to make races and get good finishes and, hopefully, we'll be able to do that this weekend. I love the track. I love the people here and it would be nice to get a good, solid finish that we were hoping to get last week to get us untracked a little bit."
WHAT WERE THOSE LATE MODEL DAYS LIKE HERE?
"Our Late Model deals here, especially the 300-lappers, we used to show up and there would be 150 cars for those shows. Martinsville was the place to come to and that was the race to make. Everybody from across the country would come here to run that big Late Model race and I've got a lot of fond memories here. I remember the first time I came up here with Emanuel Zervakis and Stock Car Products and that was a big deal for me. Some race tracks you just kind of take to or like better than others and I've always liked this track. I feel I've gotten around it decent over the years and I always look forward to coming here and that makes a difference."
THIS TRACK HAS CHANGED A LOT THE LAST FEW YEARS HASN'T IT?
"Yeah, it really doesn't seem like the same track. I mean, it's the same design but when they re-did it this last time and took all the little character out of the track - the bumps and the cracks and the grooves - that's what really made it that much more difficult to get around. Now it's just as smooth as it can be, which is great, but I think it closed everybody up a little bit closer because of some of the things you need to try to do. The way you pick the gas up and what you can do here now has changed, but it's the same for everybody. It's the same style of race track and the same things will be important - getting the car to turn good, keep your brakes on the car, have good forward bite and stay out of trouble by keeping your fenders on it until the last 100 laps and then see what you've got."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE COMPETING AGAINST THESE MULT-CAR TEAMS?
"It's tough for a start-up team like ours anyway. It would have been tough five years ago. It would have been tough 10 years ago, but today, with the multi-car teams and all the technology and engineering that goes into it, it's even tougher. People that don't know racing ask me the same question, 'How do you compete?' Or they ask me, 'Why don't we run like they run?' Well, when we come to the race track and go home we've got one set of notes to look at for next time. When Jack Roush goes home he's got five sets of notes to look at and decipher, so when they come back the next time they put all those notes together. So the next time they come back they know how to get that extra tenth because they know what works and what doesn't. Over the course of a year that makes it really difficult. So you take those cars and the Hendrick cars - they're the only two teams that are consistently there.
"Most of the other teams are here at this track, mid-pack next week. Where does that leave us - a single-car team. We're kind of sucking for air every week to even have a chance to make the race and be somewhat competitive. Having five cars is a lot, but it certainly is a big advantage. The biggest thing is that even in testing you can't really simulate what it's like on race weekend and every race weekend those guys have five solid sets of notes to go from to make that little bit of change that will give them that little extra advantage when they come back to that race track. That's why in the long term it's hard to keep up with them."
DOES A TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD A BIT?
"We can never close the gap completely, but if we're behind a little bit in aerodynamics, or if we're behind a little bit in engineering, it's not gonna show up as much here as it would at California, Vegas, Texas, Atlanta - places like that - so we can definitely close the gap. If there's a place that we can sneak in there and mix it up with them a little bit it's here, Richmond, Bristol - a short track. But the reality is our sport is going more to the mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks, so in the long term if you're gonna get there we have to do the best we can on those tracks, too. It's just tough and it's not just tough for us but all the single-car teams. I think just about everybody has either missed a race or come awfully close to missing races. Even some of the two and three-car teams struggle from time to time and if they hadn't been in the top 35, they would have missed some races. It's tough and it's getting tougher, but you've got to be determined if you want to stay in it."
SO WHAT IS YOUR REALISTIC GOAL FOR THE RACE TOMORROW?
"It's the same thing as Bristol. I really felt like last weekend our car was good enough that if we could have made the right adjustments and kept our nose clean that we could have gotten a top 20 out of it. I feel the same way about this place. I feel like if we can get our car doing the things I need for it to do and make the right calls on strategy and pitting at the end it wouldn't surprise me if we got a top 20 finish here. We need something like that to get going in the right direction and get a little momentum going. Hopefully, that will happen and we won't get crashed or nothing bad will happen. We want to be able to just do our thing and run our race and be there at the end."