ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Avenger) WHAT ARE YOU AND THE TEAM LOOKING TO ACCOMPLISH THIS WEEKEND? "We're looking to get our program turned around. We have been struggling pretty badly this year. It has been one of the most ...
ELLIOTT SADLER (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Avenger)
WHAT ARE YOU AND THE TEAM LOOKING TO ACCOMPLISH THIS WEEKEND? "We're looking to get our program turned around. We have been struggling pretty badly this year. It has been one of the most frustrating seasons that I've had as a driver. We're trying to look for the light at the end of the tunnel and get some things turned around. We have been making a lot of changes and trying to improve a little bit to get ready for 2008, to try and get a fresh start.
"I just want to run good here. I've come here a lot of times as a fan and now as a driver and I've had some good nights here and some bad nights here. But I just want to run good for my hometown crowd and put on a good show."
BEING A HOMETOWN RACE FOR YOU DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY COMING? "You have no idea. They bring up busloads from southern Virginia. A lot of my family and friends will be here, over a hundred from my hometown. These guys have been coming up here for a long time. All my kinfolk still have the top row at the start/finish line. It's fun to race in front of them but it's also a lot of pressure. You want to do good for them. It's cool to still have the support that we have from all the Virginia fans. It means a lot to me. I'm proud to be from Virginia. All of our races are always sold out at Martinsville and Richmond and it shows you what kind of fans we have. For them to pull for you and be on your side it makes it that much more special."
WHAT IS THE IDEAL HANDLING CAR HERE AT RICHMOND? "You want your car to turn good in the center. You want to get it turned and get it going. We're working on that. We work on that every time we come we just haven't found the magic yet. We'll try some things again this weekend. We're trying some experimental pieces and hopefully some will work."
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger)
"It's Richmond. The excitement level in the garage is at a peak level. It will be interesting to see people's strategy and how aggressive they are or if they are just looking to get another race under their belt before the Chase starts next week. For us with the Miller Lite team we're looking for another consistent weekend. If we have a chance to lead a lap we want to do such and get those elusive five points. Then 36th or better, that is something that we have to do. It reminds a little bit of 2004 that was the year that was good to me even winning the Championship. But yet I wasn't locked in when I came to Richmond I just need to finish 40th or better. It's the same type of feel. Hopefully during the race, a 100 laps in or so, Pat Tryson the crew chief will radio in that we've been locked in mathematically and we'll be able to really stand on it and see what we've got. We have to have a conservative approach but 36th or better isn't too tall of an order."
WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET COMING OUT OF DOVER IN JUNE AFTER THE PENALTY? "We had a rough month of May and then the first part of June at Dover didn't go all that well for us with the run-in with Tony (Stewart) out on the track. It made us rethink where stood. We hadn't quite had the success we wanted. We just were seventh in points a few weeks before that and then we fell all the way to 17th. If you can drop that quick, you can make it up that quick. That was the mindset that we took and adopted after that Dover race. We didn't quite do exactly what we needed to at Pocono and the first New Hampshire. But since the first of July it's really started to click and that was when we added Pat Tryson. So that comfort level and that confidence on the pit box, Pat has been incredible with that."
ON THE NEW CHASE FORMAT "If we didn't have that this year, if it was just the 10 (cars) again, it would be the most exciting opportunity for the race to the Chase to really show itself, with Clint Bowyer, myself, Harvick and Dale Jr. within 40 points of each other. With me being 11th and only 40 points out of ninth it really would have been exciting to see who was going to get in and who was going to get out. It would of changed every lap with positions out on the track. But this year there are 12 guys and so Dale Jr. has quite a bit of work to do to catch up. The rest of us are able to breathe a little easier but it sure would have been interesting to see if there was only ten 10 of us and there was three drivers within 40 points."
DO YOU FEEL THE PENSKE RACING HAS CAUGHT UP WITH COT PROGRAM "I think that the field has done a great job with advancing all of the COTs. Early on they didn't drive all that swell and some of the drivers commented about that. The basic core principal is getting the race car around the race track as fast as you can no matter how bad it drives or how good it drives. I think the teams have caught up to Hendrick (Motorsports).
"We have things in a better direction at Penske, with our COT program. We have two setups that we're going to try this afternoon and hopefully they will lead us in the direction that we need to take our COT program.
"We have a test on Monday and Tuesday at Talladega. I believe the first half of the first day will be NASCAR trying to figure out which restrictor plate size to give us. They want to see the cars in a pack. They want to see how fast they are going to pick up speed when there are more cars packed together. It is going to be trial and error early on. But I think by the beginning of the second day teams will really start hitting their stride, which gear to we need to run, which wing angle and polishing up on a car that is brand new to all of us. So there is so many questions still to be answered with that car at a big race track."
COMPARE THIS YEAR TO 2004 "When you start a race and they tell you, you just have to finish 40th or better, you're not necessarily worried about what other guys have to do or where they are. That is the same mindset that we have this weekend, 36th or better and just worry about our race car. If the 8 car is out there dominating and leading every lap we might worry about where he is because he is leading. All we have to do is make sure we keep the car clean and make sure it is running on eight cylinders.
"The Chase still has the same characteristics it's had since its inception and that to run consistent each week and not fall behind early. I've been involved in two Chases. The first one went really well for us, didn't have a hiccup until we went to Atlanta with three races to go. That meant that we raced six races really well and we were 90 points ahead going into Atlanta.
"The second year I was in the Chase we were spun out on lap three. That was hard to dig back out of. It's a definite struggle when you're coming from behind when everybody is point racing. When people are points racing it is very difficult to gain points but you can maintain if you have things go smooth in the beginning of your Chase. I think that is the key for all the teams, to get off to a solid four or five race effort that has no finishes worse than 10th."
HOW DOES THE CHASE CHALLENGE THE DRIVER "It is a tough challenge. You have to be at your very best for 10 weeks straight. It seems like Monday through Thursday is about a month long in between each of races when you're running well. When your struggling it seems like there is only a day in between each of the races because you need more time to prep and you need to get things caught up. So you have forecast quite few things. You have to get your cars ready. You have to have your cars ready to go for Dover right now if you want to be on top of things. The mindset is if you have a smooth week going it seems to carry on to the next week and you gain a lot of points the next week as well."
DOES THIS YEAR REMIND YOU OF 2004? "To me it has very small similarities to 2004. This season for us has been interesting with the crew chief position to have an interim crew chief come in and pick up the program a little bit. Then throw Pat Tryson in and it has been a feeling of getting things put into place.
"Back in 2004 we sat down at the beginning of the year and said what do we need to do to win this Championship with this new format? We said we should save all of our tests for the end of the season. Go testing during the Chase. We did that. So we stretched ourselves a little thing during the regular season. We felt like we were a good enough team to make the Chase without having to do a lot of testing and to make sure we stayed on top of everything. So we came in seventh. Once the Chase started we had four or five tests left over. We tested every week and every Chase race. We went and attacked it like we knew what we were doing.
"This year, different mindset, different testing procedures. We feel like we've picked up our program quite a bit as of late. Then you have to mix in the COT thing. You have regular cars that we feel like we're running really strong with and then we've got our COT cars that are adequate but we need to be better with. We are hitting a good stride at a good time."
-credit: dodge motorsports