Phoenix II: Sadler, Busch - Dodge Friday interviews

ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON THE HUNTING "I've had a great week of hunting. Some of my buddies had a great week. My deer hunting has been like my racing luck. I was around it, but I couldn't get them to come...

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

COMMENT ON THE HUNTING "I've had a great week of hunting. Some of my buddies had a great week. My deer hunting has been like my racing luck. I was around it, but I couldn't get them to come close enough to me. I had fun. It was cool to spend time with my dad and all of my friends this week. Getting up at 4:30 every morning is a little different than my racing schedule all weekend. That was a little tough, but we had a great week and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season. I do most of mine (hunting) around home. It's not because of what you're able to harvest. I just like to spend time with my friends. I live in Charlotte during the summer and I don't get to see all the guys I went to high school with. We had a big cookout at the barn Tuesday night and had about 85 people there. We cooked barbeque chicken and rice and giblets. That was pretty good. It was just good seeing the friends again. It's very hard to find time, and we've got a lot of testing this winter with the COT car and getting ready for next year. We really want to hit the ground running with the new team and make sure we've got all the questions answered before we get to Daytona Speedweeks. I'm going to miss a little more hunting this year than I have in a long time, so that's why I'm cherishing the moment every time I get to go."

COMMENT ON POSSIBLE CHAOS NEXT SEASON "It's going to be very tough on all the teams next year. It's going to be very expensive on all the teams because the things that work on our regular car don't work on the COT car. It's going to be a different mindset every week you go. The things that work on one don't work on the other, so it's going to be hard on the crew chief, hard on the driver. I think the driver's time is going to be a lot different because of the way the aerodynamic forces and stuff work on the car. We're all going to have our hands full, but we're all on the same page and we've all got to learn to adapt to it and adapt to the COT car. We'll see how it works out."

ARE YOU TESTING THE COT CAR HERE MONDAY? "No, I'm going to Rockingham on Wednesday to test the COT. We wanted to go to a very bumpy racetrack. The car slams down on the banking very hard at Rockingham and make sure we've got all the springs and all the bumps very smooth feeling. That'll be my first time in the COT. I'm pretty anxious and looking forward to it. NASCAR fans, and we're all fans in this garage, don't like change. We're just skeptical of it, and we've had some really good racing this year, some of the best racing we've had in awhile. We're just starting to learn how to get our cars better with the short spoilers. Nobody really wants to change, but how can you complain or argue with NASCAR? They've done such a good job the past 10 years of growing our sport and making it more fan friendly and appealing to TV and things like that. If they think this is going to help our sport grow, we've got to get in there whether we think it's right or wrong and do it with them."

ARE YOU RACING TO PROTECT THE TOP 35? "We're racing to protect the top 35. It's not going to be a fun last two races. Kyle Petty, you've got to tip your hat to those guys for being out of the top 35 for so long and making every race and making it on qualifying. They've done a unbelievable job over there. It's too many people trying to get a piece of the pie, and it's not working. There are 36 teams for 35 spots that are really, really tight. Between us and the 21, 40, 45 and 14, it's going to be a hair-raising experience. For us at the 19, we're trying to protect the top 35 right now. We could go for it a couple of weeks ago, but we've had so many problems that we're not able to try to go for wins as much as getting a good top 10 or top 15 finish. That'll keep us in the top 35. We've adjusted the gear ratio. We actually flew some motors out here and changed motors yesterday in the hotel parking lot to make sure we've got a good, safe motor for Sunday that's going to run all day. I've got to do my job as a driver to protect it in practice and make sure we run all 312 laps here on Sunday."

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH KASEY'S ENGINE AT TEXAS? "The same problem we had at Martinsville. I think it was a valve spring problem. We kinda know where the issues are at. The guys are working hard on it to rectify it not only for this year but for next year because after Daytona when you go to California and Vegas and Atlanta and Texas you've got a lot of fast racetracks right off the bat and these are things we've got to make sure when we unload there our motor can handle 500 miles."

WHAT'S UP WITH YOUR BEARD? "The hunting season is coming in. It's cold in Virginia and I walk about eight miles a day in the briars and I've got to protect my handsome face. (The beard) does it. It works out great. It really helps a lot. It's neat how much warmer a beard is, plus I'm lazy. When you get up at 4:30 or 5 o'clock every morning you don't feel like shaving. After walking seven or eight miles a day and you're in the woods all day when you get home at night after finding all your dogs you don't really feel like shaving then, either. I'm a pretty lazy guy in the winter time as far as keeping clean cut. Ray says he doesn't mind as long as I go out there and do my job as a driver. He doesn't care how I show up and look as long as I do everything I'm supposed to do. He gave me permission to show up like this."

DO YOU HAVE ONE GUN YOU LIKE TO USE? "My dad probably has 60 some. I've probably got 10, but I've been hunting with the same two guns for 10 years and I won't change. I know them in and out. One is a Browning 270 Safari Rifle and one is a Browning 10-gauge shotgun. That's what I hunt with. I hear so many great stories from Richard (Childress) and those guys, and I've got a few friends at home that do the same trips. They go everywhere, harvesting all types of animals, animals I've never heard of, but honestly, I'm such a dog lover and they're my kids and I want to be around them. I've got so many opportunities to go to so many places, even this winter, Kansas and Texas and Iowa and Montona to go elk hunting or mule deer hunting or whatever, but I travel so much during the summer I kinda like staying home. Don't you guys like staying home a little bit in the winter? So you know where I'm coming from."

"I've been in the woods all week. I landed in Phoenix last night about 1 o'clock in the morning because I had to get in that last afternoon of hunting before I left. I hunted all week and had a great week. Everything went well. I'm going out again Monday morning about 4:30. I haven't got anything this year. Some of my buddies have. We had a good week. Me being kinda the host of the party, even if I don't kill one as long as my friends get to come and see some action it works out good. We had a lot of funny stories and cool stuff. We had a good week."

***

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON THE NEW CAR AT PIR "It's one of those short track cars where you have the emphasis on trying to build it on the lighter side of things and to allow it to flex a little bit. We're anticipating good things out of the car. It's the direction we believe we need to take for most of our cars even going into the mile and a half tracks next year."

IS IT A POLE CAR? "We hope so. That would seal it and make it wrapped up with the envelope around it (season-long Bud Pole Award). That's a side note to what we really need to be working on. You bring a car that you think can take you into the future. When you do that you hope good things come out of it, and that would be a pole, so we'll see."

BEFORE THIS SEASON YOU'D ONLY WON THREE CAREER POLES. YOU LEAD THE CIRCUIT WITH SIX IN 2006. WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE? "The team and the emphasis they put on qualifying. Where I was before it was just whatever, just find a starting spot. It really didn't matter before, but with this team they're able to separate qualifying from racing. I think we have an edge on our competition with our qualifying package, and it shows. If we could find that type of edge for race trim we might look like Kahne with five or six wins, where he's got an edge. Starting positions are important, pit selection really helps with the whole routine of the day. The team has really helped me understand about qualifying as well as having that Penske-Jasper power. The Dodges have shown they have potential for one or two laps, but they just haven't maintained the pace. A lot of equations are thrown in."

COMMENT ON THE SUCCESS KASEY KAHNE HAS HAD WITH THE CHARGER THIS SEASON "I look at him and see mile and a half written all over it. I haven't him show success on short tracks or Phoenix or Loudon or even the restrictor-plate races, so whatever they have works on the mile and a half tracks only. It does give us motivation. We started the year with an '05 car and tried to set it up from 2003. We came a long way in a short year. Kasey has proved that what we have is adequate except the other teams need to figure out what he has across the board for Dodge and that will help us gain momentum for next season and possibly run for a manufacturers' title."

HAS IT BEEN A FRUSTRATING SEASON FOR YOU? "Not really. Once we started out it was a matter of getting the team up to speed and the setup sorted out, bringing in my ideas, using their ideas, bringing a new crew chief to the program. That was interesting because I had a 20-year veteran (crew chief) before. I've had to work with a different style crew chief just because of his youth and engineering background."

ARE YOU AND ROY McCAULEY CLOSE OFF THE TRACK? "We're tight. We do different functions together. We hang out as couples with our wives. It's great we're able to do that outside the track as well as our business here."

THINGS ARE REALLY DIFFERENT FOR YOU THIS NOVEMBER IN PHOENIX AS OPPOSED TO LAST YEAR "It seems to be. We're taking pictures and petting dogs and signing autographs. The group in Maricopa County has really surprised me with honoring me with a special deputy's badge. The way it all came together was in recognition of the community work I've done this year throughout Maricopa County and the state of Arizona with different charitable functions, different projects, donations. We kicked off a huge event with the Westside Recreational Program, which is Little League Baseball. That's a passion on mine. Another passion is safe driving and the personal service announcement where I can go out and reach people because they relate to me as a racecar driver. If I can send out a message about safe driving, wearing your seat belts and obeying the speed limits no matter how many people see that commercial if we reach just one we've made a difference. They recognized me yesterday for the way they handled the situation last November as well as throughout this year -- my attitude and my gift giving toward the community. So it paid off and I was honored by it. I didn't expect it. It shows the person I am initially comes off a bit brash or a bit rough as most people would say, but I'm a genuine person underneath and Maricopa County saw that and that's how we ended up where we are today."

THE PSA WORKED OUT WELL FOR DODGE "Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Maricopa County Sheriff) said he really enjoyed the Dodge Charger and the speed it had. The back seat area has just enough room, he said, for the criminals. He went out and bought 10 Dodge Chargers from that PSA we taped together, him and I talking back and forth and me giving him a ride in one of those Dodge Chargers. We did a one-on-one version of it (test drive). I talked it up pretty good, and he was real impressed with the Dodge Charger, plus they have that new, distinctive look that's different than most squad cars and he's on the cutting edge of new things."

CAN YOU WIN HERE? "I always love coming out here. It's my second home in the desert. I grew up racing Cup races here for years. I won the first ever night race here in April of '05. It's a good consistent track for me. I really enjoy getting around this place. To get to victory lane you just have to get the car balanced on both ends of the track. One and two is so different from three and four. The key I believe is getting off turn four and laying the power down and going down that long front straightaway."

IT WILL BE YOUR FIRST OFF SEASON AS A MARRIED MAN. ANY BIG PLANS? "It's a newlywed thing going on, and I've got a honey do list. We've actually made a pact to spend 30 days straight at home, and we're going to see if we can make it. At the same time, we have to move. We're moving to a new house, hopefully in the middle of December. We live in Charlotte, but we're moving closer to the Penske race shops. We'll probably spend 15 days at the old house and 15 days at the new house. That's the plans."

COMMENT ON THE COT "I've been with it five or six times on short tracks primarily. I'm still trying to understand the concept of it. It's a truck series vehicle that drives like an IROC car that doesn't drive anything like an existing Cup car. Where I think it can make a big impact is on the bigger tracks, but we're going to start with it on the short tracks. It's a big learning process for everybody. I think there's so many question marks around the vehicle, whether it's the way it looks or the way it drives. We hope it provides for better racing action. It doesn't look all that pretty, but it's here and there's 16 points races and if they're handing out points at the end of the day we've got to go do our job and get those points. The first two times I was so, I don't know what the word was. You're initially appalled by the look of it. Secondly it's a whole different thought process of how to set it up, so yeah, the fifth time it took its own identity and became sort of routine."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup