Michigan: Sadler - Dodge Friday interview

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Sadler will make his 300th career Cup start on Sunday at MIS. COMMENT ON 300TH START "It's a great start for me, kinda growing up as a kid and being a fan of NASCAR, working hard...

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Sadler will make his 300th career Cup start on Sunday at MIS.

COMMENT ON 300TH START "It's a great start for me, kinda growing up as a kid and being a fan of NASCAR, working hard racing go-karts, racing local tracks, you never thought you would have a chance to make it to this type of level, so to be here in my ninth season and starting 300 starts is a great honor for me and my family. It's cool to be doing it here. I've made some pretty cool announcements over the years here at Michigan. It seems like it always ends up here at Michigan. I remember when Robert and I made our deal together when I first started driving the 38 and then coming here last year with the 19 for the first time. It seems like it always gets a circle around this racetrack. I like Michigan, and we ran very well here last year in the 19 for the first time together. I'm looking forward to coming back today and hopefully my 300th career start will be a good one."

COMMENT ON ELDORA AND THE SWITCH TO DODGE "Eldora was a lot of fun. I don't think we can give Tony Stewart enough thumbs up for putting that show together. I was just wowed, blown away when I got there. It looked like Woodstock. Campers and tents and people just lined up everywhere a mille before you even get to the racetrack. For me my very first time ever on dirt, ever in a dirt car. I didn't even know how to get it going because the clutch works backwards. We pretty much had to have a lesson before I even went out on the racetrack. I learned a lot my first time. They gave me a lot of laps to practice, five laps apiece for two sessions. It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot and could not believe how many fans showed up there. It was a great race. I didn't actually get to race in the A-main because I tore up my car up in the B-main, In a good way, I got to watch an unbelievable race for the fans and people who didn't get to watch on pay-per-view when it comes out on Speed Channel you guys need to see it because the guys put on a good show. I think it's going to be bigger and better each and every year. Guys are already talking about Eldora next year, different things to do, different ways to approach it to make our cars better. I've talked to a lot of different drivers as far as coming up with a test plan to test on dirt a little bit more before we go back. It's going to be a pretty big spectacle each year we go back.

"As far as moving over to Ray's, I've been very happy working with Ray. I love my teammates. No, we have not run the way we need to run this year. We're a little bit behind with the COT. The new nose has thrown us off a little bit, but we're not panicking. No one is pointing fingers. We just missed it a little bit, but we're going to get it. We've got that confidence in ourselves and in our race team that we're going to get these Dodges and these Evernham cars turned around. We've got the same people back in the shop that won the most poles and most races last year, so we've just got to get it turned around and going in the right direction and go from there. As far as the team, I love my guys. Ray is a great guy to work for. He's into it big time, very fiery and very emotional and just wants to win, period. I love driving for an owner like that."

HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE SPORT CHANGE IN 300 STARTS? "When I first started racing in 1999, I was 23 years old when I started driving for the Wood Brothers. At the time, I was probably the youngest driver, by far the youngest driver in the sport. Now, if you're 23 years old, you should have three or four years experience in this sport. I really see the changing of the guard as far as age is concerned playing a big part in our sport. I see where we've really come to the forefront in the limelight as far as bringing in different media outlets and reaching a lot of different ages and groups of people across the country. We had a lot of big news happen in our sport this week and I saw pretty much on every news channel you could possibly find it on -- not just a Speed Channel or ESPN Channel or whatever -- it's been played on everything. I just see where we're reaching a lot more people, and I think NASCAR and all of its sponsors and all of its marketing people have done a good job of bringing new faces and new fans to our sport. It's the biggest thing I've seen, and definitely money. Money is a big change in our sport. I think the first year I drove for the Wood Brothers we had 40 employees that worked out of Stuart, Va. Now Ray Evernham has 330 and Rick Hendnck has 550. It's amazing the money and the depth of these race teams that you have to have to be competitive each and every week. That's probably the biggest things I've seen as far as the growth in the sport."

COMMENT ON GETTING FIRST WIN "There's a big difference as a person. Whether you're looking at your team or you're looking at everybody else in the garage in the eye. There's a big difference personally. It's the difference of looking at a person and saying 'I think I can do it' and looking at a person and saying, 'I know I can do it. I've done it.' That's a big relief. It's a big difference for the team you're with. It's the difference in patting each other on the back and saying 'we can do this. We can do it again.' It's a big momentum boost. It's a big boost for your confidence. It makes you feel like you belong in this sport. If you win at this sport, if you can beat 42 other guys on Sunday, it's not like a stick and ball sport where it's one-on-one. You feel like you've done a good job and you deserve to be here. I'm sure that's what Junior was talking about Martin Truex, who has been getting better it seems in every race this year. He finished one at Dover and he came back at Pocono. I betcha he's going to run good this weekend. You can't put a number and value on how much confidence and momentum mean right now in Nextel Cup Racing. Your confidence gets a little shaky when you don't win. It seems like a long time since Texas and California have been here when I last won a couple of races, so I think I can do it on certain different tracks. On certain tracks I think I can run good, here. If everything goes right, I should be able to get a win here. As a person I feel like I can win at this level and I can win again. Now, I just have to do my job and put my team in that position each and every Sunday. Your confidence starts going away a little bit, like 'am I doing this right? Am I giving my guys the right feedback? Goodyear has changed the tire. Do I know enough about the tire?' You always question yourself in certain ways because it's such a tough, tough sport. The competition level is so amazing, so if you don't bring your A game each and every week you can fall to the bottom rung pretty quick. I can win with this 19 team. I know I can, especially at certain tracks we go it. Have we shown it this year? No we have not We ran well at Bristol and had a chance to win that race and had a problem, but I think we can do it. If we can just get in the right situation at the right track I think good things can happen."

COMMENT ON MONTOYA AT THE ROAD COURSE NEXT WEEK "I think he's going to run very well. I think he wants to win a Nextel Cup race like the rest of us. I think next week is his best chance of the year to win a Nextel Cup race. He showed at Mexico how fast his car can be and how good Ganassi is on road courses with all their cars running well at Mexico. I think next week he will be a car to beat, but do I think he's going to come in and outrun everybody like some of the media think? No, but he's definitely got a great shot. When you race against Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon and some of these guys on road courses who are up front every week, it's going to be tough. Do I think Juan has a good shot at it? Yes he does. I think it'll be his best legitimate shot to win all year long to get a win next week at Sears Point."

COMMENT ON MAUFACTURERS SUCCESS AT MIS "Everybody looks at it differently. You guys are looking at past history, like past years. Coming to Michigan, I look at who ran well at Charlotte and who ran well at Texas. Chevrolets ran good at both of those racetracks. I think you're going to have to outrun a Chevrolet this weekend. I don't know which one, but I'd say Hendrick is pretty close, 10 out of 14 races this year. My teammate won this race last year, and we're looking at a lot of stuff he did because it's pretty much the same style race car. Right now with Chevrolet's nose and the stuff they have they've got it figured out and they're putting it to us pretty bad. We'll see. This is definitely a home court racetrack for all the manufacturers. As a representative of them, you want to run well and give your team some bragging rights. We came loaded for bear this weekend and hopefully it'll work out for us."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT DALE JR.? "I'm happy for him. Being friends with Dale for 12-13 years now, I actually had a chance to sit down with him a couple of weeks ago and talk about all this stuff that was going on at his house. I'm very happy for him. I think what fans sometimes don't realize or media, some of the questions you guys ask, as kids and fans of this sport, all you ask if you do make it, your dream is to win the Nextel Cup championship. That's your dream as a kid as a fan of this sport, so you've got to make decisions and try to put yourself in position where you think that's best going to happen. Does that mean you're guaranteed one? No, but you're going to get yourself in the right situation that feels correct to you to make those things happen. He feels like aligning himself with Mr. Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports, if you're involved in the sport you know what type of man Rick Hendrick is, and I've heard Dale Jr. say this a few times, he's not looking at Mr. Hendrick as a boss. He's looking at him as a friend. I think that's pretty cool. As a friend of his, I'm very happy for him. I think he did it in a very professional way the way he handled everything. They definitely are a power superteam to be dealt with in the future. I think he just wanted to align himself up with the best possible chance to win the championship, and as a kid growing up and dreaming about being a part of the sport I don't see how you can blame him for that. I went though the same exact thing last year, leaving Robert Yates Racing to go with Ray Evernham.. I think the world of Robert Yates. He's a great friend of mine, almost like a dad to me, but I felt like I wanted to align myself with a team I had the best chance to win the championship with. Sometimes you have to do that as a driver. As a good friend of his, I'm happy for him. I could tell during his press conference this week that a whole load had been lifted off his shoulders. He seemed like a different person, very happy and ready to move on."

ARE YOU GOING TO RUN THE OLD NOSE ON THE CHARGER? "I think my teammate Kasey Kahne came with the old nose. We talked about it last week. This is how it all got started. This is how things work. We got out of the cars last week during the rain delay at Pocono and Kasey and I were 21st and 22nd on the grip. Scott (Riggs) was right there. There was whole line of Dodges lined up right there (18th-25th). Ray and Kasey and I just started talking about the old noses and how much more success we had last year, especially Kasey on these style of racetracks. I pretty much said, 'I'll do it. Let me try the old nose next week.' I'll try anything. When a company is struggling you try to look for answers here or there. We decided to bring Kasey back since he had a great feel for the nose and the car last year and had great success, those guys decided to bring the old nose here just to answer some questions, just to see are we missing on body or we missing it somewhere else? We're going to answer some questions at Evernham Motorsports this weekend. Dodge and Mike Accavitti and everybody was so nice to let us come do that. They know we want to make our team better and represent all the Dodge Dealers the best way we can. It's a good test for us this weekend to come with the old nose with Kasey just to see where we need go and work on our program to make it better."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kasey Kahne , Martin Truex Jr. , Ray Evernham , Robert Yates
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Yates Racing