Sadler let down despite strong Talladega run

Sadler let down despite strong Talladega run

Elliott Sadler had a car to win at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. What he didn't have were any friends in the draft. "The 31 (Burton) was the best pushed I had all day," said Sadler. "This was the best car I had in three years at Yates ...

Elliott Sadler had a car to win at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. What he didn't have were any friends in the draft.

"The 31 (Burton) was the best pushed I had all day," said Sadler. "This was the best car I had in three years at Yates Racing."

Michael Waltrip and Elliott Sadler.
Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt.
During the 43-minute red flag brought out after the 25-car melee at lap 132 (which damaged the safer wall in turn one) Sadler came on the radio and told crew chief Todd Parrott that he, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had talked about working together on the racetrack and had a plan worked out.

That plan never seemed to come to fruition. McMurray passed the No. 38 Ford and Earnhardt was involved in the lap 186 yellow that took out six cars.

Any deal Sadler assembled crumbled after that.

The dream of taking a Ford to victory lane in Alabama for the first time since 1998 was just not meant to be. By his own admission, Sadler's car went wherever he wanted it to go, the problem was whenever he stepped out of line no one was there to give him the push he needed to the front. Sadler battled with race winner Jeff Gordon throughout the day, leading for nine laps, and competed solidly in the top-five despite being shuffled backward several times. Sadler was running third when the late race caution brought out the green/white/checker.

On the final restart, he was shuffled from third to sixth. When Sadler looked to go for the lead, the No. 20 Chevy of Tony Stewart and the No. 15 Chevy of Michael Waltrip (who finished second and third) elected to not go with the No. 38 and hung him out to dry.

"The time before I got hung out on the inside, so I made up my mind I was not gonna get hung out on the inside and I got hung out on the outside," said Sadler. "The 15 and the 20 were working together all day long. I was a sitting duck."

It cost Sadler a top-three finish.

Despite finishing sixth there wasn't a lot of hoopla amongst the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford team. In fact, they all looked pretty dejected. Including Sadler, usually so upbeat, and previous to the race finish had been in a rip-roaring good mood celebrating his 30th birthday.

Post race he looked like he just needed a hug.

Elliott Sadler.
Photo by Autostock.
Sixth, however, is a great result for Sadler. For two consecutive years in the October race, the 38 M&M's Ford has flipped through the air and finished on its hood. Just to be upright and top-10 seemed like it should have felt like a victory for these guys.

But they could taste their first win of the season.

"That's by far the fastest Ford I've ever had in a restrictor plate race and actually get to run with Gordon and the 15 and all of them," Sadler said. "My hats off to Robert Yates and all his guys in the fab shop. My hat's off to Doug Yates and the engine room. Holy cow did they bring me some horsepower this weekend, so it worked out good."

Sadler remains fifth in Nextel Cup series standings. He currently sits 204 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson and 53 points behind race winner Jeff Gordon who sits in third.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler
Teams Yates Racing