Elliott Sadler went through a lot of changes in 2005. After performing dismally in the 2004 Chase for the Nextel Cup, Sadler was hot out of the box at Daytona and looked poised to turn his fortune around last season. Elliott...
Elliott Sadler went through a lot of changes in 2005. After performing dismally in the 2004 Chase for the Nextel Cup, Sadler was hot out of the box at Daytona and looked poised to turn his fortune around last season.
The unpredictability in their finishing results and where they would or would not run well prompted a crew chief change after the fall New Hampshire race. Out was veteran Todd Parrott and in was chief engineer Kevn Buskirk in a temporary role.
Once Parrott was removed from the equation, however, things brightened for Sadler. In the last nine events of the year, he had two poles and three top ten finishes. The team hopes they can carry the momentum into Speedweeks.
"Last year, to me, seems like 10 years ago," Sadler said. "I'm not really thinking about it because so many things have changed this winter at Robert Yates Racing. I don't feel like we've got the same mentality, the same chemistry, the same team, anything. It's just a whole new outlook on racing. And here, we just want to get out of the blocks strong, and I think that's very important. You don't want to feel like you've got to dig yourself out of a hole each and every week.
"So, we're excited, just like every other team because we're all tight at the moment, to come into Daytona and really get off to a good start and put our best foot forward. I've been very impressed with my team, how hard they've worked this winter, and going to the shop and seeing all the cars we have lined up, and the organization. Our team is so organized right now, it's unbelievable, and I can't wait to feel the effects of that, and I think that'll help us in the long run more this year."
Sadler is currently participating in pre-season testing, not only to hammer out the quirks of working with newly hired crew chief Tommy Baldwin, Jr. but also testing the new Ford Fusion.
"I think the Ford Fusion is great," commented Sadler. "I really like the way it looks, the way it's turned out. The way the character lines on it. I like the way it drives. I've been very happy with the way my car feels in the race track this morning. So, I like the new Fusion body. I like the nose on it, the front tires in the ground, and I can't wait to get it some drafting practice to see the full effects of it. But, so far, so good.
"I'm real happy with everything. I've got a car that's handling great. I think to run good here at the Daytona 500, you got to have a comfortable race car and right now we have that." Sadler knows that he has a lot to work on if he and Baldwin want to be contenders not only for race wins but the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup. He also knows that some of those changes have to come from within.
"I've got to be more knowledgeable as far as aerodymamic part of the race car," said Sadler. "I was not as good last year with that as I needed to be. As far as springs and different things you could do to keep the car aero-wise balanced more, I was always worried about the chassis part of it, chassis part of it, when our sport is really making a swing and using more of the aero part of it.
"That's something my crew chief is helping me with and really giving me stuff that I can study getting me more in the know on what's going on inside the car, and, of course, working with Ford more closely than we ever have, keeping our eyes open on that part of it, too. We know the new Fusion is going to be very good aerodynamic-wise, and me as a driver and us as a team we need to learn how to use it all the way to its fullest effect."