Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion, requested and was given his release from Robert Yates Racing at the end of the 2006 season. Sadler spoke about the decision prior to Friday's practice at Pocono Raceway. ELLIOTT ...
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion, requested and was given his release from Robert Yates Racing at the end of the 2006 season. Sadler spoke about the decision prior to Friday's practice at Pocono Raceway.
ELLIOTT SADLER -- No. 38 M&M's Ford Fusion
CAN YOU OUTLINE YOUR DECISION? "Before I get into why and where and all that good stuff, I do want to say that this past week has probably been the toughest week of my life as far as decisions being made. As far as going in and having a heart to heart talk with Robert this past week has been one of the hardest couple of hours I've ever spent in my life. It's been very tough this week to kind of get through all of this. I have decided to leave Robert Yates Racing, not from my relationship with Robert or Doug Yates. They're great, great people and I've definitely enjoyed driving for those guys, but pretty much just have come to differences of opinion on which way the sport is going. This is not the first meeting that we've had. We've had meetings all year long to try to meet in the middle and try to make some good decisions on what we think we need to do to make our race team better, but could never get going in that direction. I just have a difference of opinion on which way the sport is going than those guys did. I couldn't really make myself buy into the system in which way I think the company is going, so we just decided to split ways and do something different. That's kind of what has brought us here to today. I think Robert and I did sit down and decide that no matter what we do, no matter what goes on, we still have a lot of racing left to do this season. We still need to try to run very, very good to make the 38 car exciting for somebody to get in next year. We have a lot of great sponsors on board that we need to take care of this year and pretty much when we got out of the meeting we pretty much said to each other that we want to be able to look each other in the eye at Homestead after the checkered flag and be able to shake hands and say, 'We did everything we could together this year to have a successful season,' so that's pretty much where we're at today."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT IF A BUYOUT WAS INVOLVED AND WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU DIDN'T WANT TO STAY AT RYR? "I can't talk about anything as far as my contract and stuff is concerned. I don't need to get into that. I had an out in the contract the same way Robert had an out in the contract. We both did just in case things don't go right. Most teams and drivers have that. As far as realizing if I wanted to stay or if I didn't want to stay, we have given it every possible chance we could to make this relationship go forward. We've given each other the benefit of the doubt for the last couple of months on trying different things and trying different situations to make our race team better and we've had a lot of good meetings and a lot of heart to heart meetings. I've had a couple of meetings with Robert where both of us are sitting in tears trying to figure out what we need to do as far as our future is concerned, but I just decided this week that it's best for me to let Robert know now, so he has plenty of time to get in a good driver to come fill the 38 car and just decided that maybe this is not gonna work for Elliott Sadler. I'm not saying it won't work for somebody else. I think if you get a good driver come in here and buy into what Robert and Doug are doing at their company, I think they're gonna run good next year. But as far as me personally, I just couldn't buy into that system. I really 100 percent decided this week to go have this sit-down with Robert -- tell him what my intentions were -- try to work through it -- get everything done and then move forward."
WHERE DO YOU THINK THE SPORT IS GOING AND WHERE DO ROBERT AND DOUG THINK THE SPORT IS GOING? "I just think it's a difference of opinion. All of you are media, but you all do it different ways also. It's like each race team -- we're all here racing but we all do it in different types of ways. It's not that one way is bad and one way is good, it's just that everybody has a difference of opinion. I'm not gonna sit here and say that my way is the right way and somebody else's way is the wrong way. I think Doug and Robert are doing good things at their shop. They're making a lot of commitments to a lot of people to turn their shop and their race teams around and get it back to the old Robert Yates Racing, but sometimes people just don't agree on things. It doesn't make one right or wrong. It doesn't make this person a bad person or the other person a bad person, it's just sometimes you don't agree on which way you think the sport is heading. We just have a difference of opinion on that. We tried to work through it and it didn't work out. There are no hard feelings. We're gonna go race our butts off the rest of the year for M&M's and everybody involved at the race shop. It's made me more determined to run good these last races than I probably have been in three-and-a-half years. I want to go run good for these guys. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. That's just the way it goes."
WHERE DO YOU THINK THIS SPORT IS HEADING? "I don't think that's important for me to sit here today and say, 'I think the sport is going in this direction and that's what I believe.' I just think it's just a difference of opinion on where we think it's heading -- what I think you need to do to be successful and what they think they need to do to be successful. It was getting hard for both of us. I can sit here honestly and look you guys in the eye, I cannot say one cross word about any one employee at Robert Yates Racing -- not one. They all work their guts out each and every week. We've been cutting stuff up and changing stuff and they've been working pretty much 24 hours around the clock to make our race teams better. It's just that we're getting to a point where we started believing in different things and that is really all it is. As simple as that may sound, I think that's a lot to do with confidence and working together and things like that."
WHAT'S A COMPELLING REASON FOR YOU TO LEAVE BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S ALMOST A LATERAL MOVE? "That's a good question, but I haven't made a move yet. I just got done getting all my stuff straight with Robert. I know there's a lot of speculation and a lot of stuff going around the garage and TV and news. But as of right now I do not have a ride for next year. I appreciate you guys getting it out that I'm free now because my phone has been ringing off the hook this week. Some teams you guys know that I'm talking to and some teams that you guys have no idea who that I'm talking to. I actually did not know that there were that many seats available for next year until this week, so now I'm kind of re-thinking my thought process and what I think I need to do to get in a really good race car. I'm pretty excited as far as some of the chances that have come up and some of the talks I've had this week, but nothing concrete yet. All we've gotten into is, 'Oh, this is available? OK, good. We need to sit down and talk about this.' I've had some good talks this week. I'm not gonna bring up any names of any teams because contracts with sponsors and other things like that, I don't want to get in the middle of all that stuff, but I have had some good talks this week and that's pretty much all I can give to you. But I have had some surprises this week, too, on some calls so I'm pretty excited about that."
A KEY MEMBER OF YOUR TEAM LEFT ABOUT SIX WEEKS INTO THE SEASON. WAS THAT A SIGN THAT SOME THINGS WERE COMING APART? "I don't know. When you get into team members going from different teams to different teams, it's more between the relationships on the guys on the team and the crew chief and things like that. I think it's more that than the relationship they have with the driver. I wasn't always around at the shop and most drivers are not to know what's going on day to day. I know who you're talking about and that was a big loss to our company I think, as a group. Does that have an effect on what I'm doing here today? No, but I think it did effect Robert Yates Racing some, but they've gone out and I think replaced that position and moved ahead with it. That's not why I'm here, but of course losing somebody like him is definitely tough for any group I think."
IT'S A GOOD TIME TO BE A DRIVER RIGHT NOW ISN'T IT? "I agree with that. Right now it's a great time to be a driver because we're pretty much in high demand right now. There are a lot more seats open than there are drivers available I think, and that's what caught me off guard this week with some of the phone calls I got. You don't realize who is looking for drivers and who is not. There are a lot more people stirring the pot underneath than you really think, so it's great to be a driver like this. I'm not in any hurry to try to make a decision. I have no timelines that I need to have something done by this date or this date. I pretty much want to sit down with each person that I'm really interested in and each team and decide, 'Is this good? Is it bad? What do you guys have to offer? What do you think we need to do? What will make us successful or not?' A lot of it will depend on teammates and stuff also as far as getting along and things like that, so right now is a great time to be a driver. I think it is. It's a pretty exciting year, I think coming next year with Juan Pablo (Montoya) and stuff like that coming in. I think that's great for our sport, so it's pretty cool to be a driver right now."
IF ELLIOTT AND DOUG ASKED YOU FOR TWO OR THREE GUYS WHO COULD REPLACE YOU WHO WOULD THEY BE, AND CAN THEY LAND A MARQUEE NAME? "I hope they don't have trouble. That's something that we talked about this past week. Anything Elliott Sadler can do to help Robert Yates Racing the rest of this year, that's what we're gonna do. Any kind of extra testing; any kind of help with driver development; anything I can do. With Stephen Leicht coming aboard, he's got a lot of talent and just needs some racing experience. I was out with him this morning at Pocono Raceway trying to get him used to this track. We helped test at Indy last week with him, so anything I can do to bring a driver along or get somebody in the 38 that's what we're gonna do. It was a great heart to heart we had with Robert his week. The first thing I did this morning when I got to the race track is Doug Yates and myself had a great heart to heart and we all pretty much can look each other in the eye and say, 'Man, we've had some great times.' I've had a ball at Robert Yates Racing, but sometimes in people's lives you just come to a point where something has to give or something has to change, but we're gonna race as hard as we can to the end of the year. We're still gonna be great friends. I still have the utmost respect for these guys and anything I can do to help them, I'm gonna help them. They have been great to me. Unbelievable. When I was talking to Robert this week I felt like I was talking to my dad, so whatever I can do to help those guys this year is what I want to do."