Elliott Sadler must feel like 'Ziggy', that cartoon character who always seems to have a perpetual black cloud hanging over his head. If the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing team didn't have bad luck they'd pretty much have no luck at all. Two weeks...
Elliott Sadler must feel like 'Ziggy', that cartoon character who always seems to have a perpetual black cloud hanging over his head. If the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing team didn't have bad luck they'd pretty much have no luck at all.
Two weeks after a staff restructuring at RYR saw General Manager Eddie D'Hondt without a job, this team has yet to find their footing. The last three races have virtually put a nail in the coffin of their hopes to make the Chase for the Nextel Cup.
Troubles at Darlington and Charlotte earned them two finishes of 29th or worse, but for awhile this weekend at Dover International Speedway it looked as if perhaps they could stop circling the drain by qualifying eighth and running in the top five during the practice sessions. But, alas it was not meant to be.
When the race began, Sadler was competitive until a loose wheel ended their hopes of bouncing back, "We had some lug nuts come loose. We had to come back in and that got us a couple of laps down," explained a visibly dejected Sadler.
And that wasn't even the really crappy part of Sadler's Sunday afternoon.
With less than 100 laps to go, Sadler got caught in an oil slick laid down by the No. 49 car, sending him around and into the wall. The team assessed that there was not enough time or reason to repair the car, so they packed up and hitched the early flight back to North Carolina.
"Then it was just to finish (after the initial tire problems)," said Sadler. "We couldn't even do that correctly. It's just been a tough season for us. Everybody at Robert Yates shop is working hard, and M&M's and CitFinancial and all the guys are really behind us, but we just can't seem to get a break right now."
Sadler will chart a 40th place finish and drop to 20th in NASCAR Nextel Cup series point standings.
"It's just a bad day here at Dover," said Sadler. "The saga continues for Robert Yates Racing. We're just having a tough, tough couple of weeks."
More like a tough, tough 2006. Sadler has just one top five finish which came in the season opening Daytona 500. Since then, results have been spotty. Despite a pole at Talladega and solid runs at short track races they have been uncharacteristically awful at tracks where they traditionally shine.
Texas and California, both tracks where Sadler has earned victories, were disastrous this year. Leaving Daytona fourth in points after a fourth place finish he qualified 16th in Fontana and finished 23rd. Vegas and Atlanta did nothing to promote Sadler's confidence but two back-to-back top-13 results at Bristol and Martinsville appeared to spell relief for the struggling Virginia native.
Coming off that sixth place result in Martinsville, Sadler's star was expected to once again rise at Texas as the team carried a momentum building finish with them to that track. But, they just couldn't capitalize on it. They started 25th at Texas and placed 33rd.
That was tear in the fabric of this team - things have gone downhill quickly since then - and it doesn't appear as if the hemorrhaging will stop anytime soon.
At least, Sadler is not alone in his misfortune, teammate Dale Jarrett isn't fairing much better. Jarrett has just two top-10 finishes, his crew chief was suspended through Pocono and he announced at Darlington that he is flying the Yates nest for greener pastures with Toyota next season.
Sadler has also been rumored to have been offered several other rides but has a contract through 2008 with RYR and M&M's. Despite a supposed "out" in his contract, Sadler stated at Charlotte that at this time he had no intention of exercising it.