Sadler to Make Cup Debut at Charlotte

Sadler to make big debut in style By Shawn A. Akers CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 6, 1998) If he was going to make his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut anywhere, Elliott Sadler figured he might as well do it in style. Sadler, who...

Sadler to make big debut in style By Shawn A. Akers CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 6, 1998)

If he was going to make his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut anywhere, Elliott Sadler figured he might as well do it in style. Sadler, who has made his way to superstardom with Diamond Ridge Motorsports in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division in less than two years, will attempt to make his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series start later this month in primetime, under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600.

It will be the first of five series events for Sadler this season, preparing him to run a full schedule at NASCAR's highest level in 1999.

"The reason why we picked Charlotte and this race to do this was because it was such high-profile event," said Sadler, currently fourth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings with one victory this season. "This is a pretty special event, and the other tracks and races that we've picked to run Cup events are special, too.

"This is good not only to get Diamond Ridge some exposure, but to get me used to high-energy races and high-energy race tracks. We're trying to win over some fans and to get some sponsors for next year, so if I do well, we can accomplish a lot of things."

Should he qualify for it, Sadler will be running a Diamond Ridge Motorsports Chevrolet in the Sunday, May 24 event. Owner Gary Bechtel hasn't gotten a sponsor for the car as of yet, but then sponsorship, Sadler said, will most likely hinge on his performance in the race.

"Right now, everybody's kinda holding their breath, waiting to see how we do at Charlotte," said Sadler, on hand for a press conference Wednesday at the Stock Car Cafe at Charlotte Douglas Airport. "It doesn't look good for us to have a sponsor for the Coca-Cola 600, but we're 90 percent sure of one for next year, and that's what counts. This race is such a big event, and we've got high hopes for Charlotte.

"I don't want to go there and make a fool out of myself and be a failure. I haven't had much sleep lately, worrying about it. I just want to make sure we go there and make the race and don't get in anybody's way and learn as much as we can. With a little bit of luck, maybe we can do that."

Sadler got his initial taste of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series last year when he qualified Felix Sabates' No. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet for last year's Coca-Cola 600 in the absence of Robby Gordon, who had a prior commitment in an Indy Car for the Indianapolis 500. Sadler qualified the car 28th, putting Gordon in the race.

"That was a great experience for me, qualifying under the lights in Felix's car," Sadler said. "Now I know what to expect, so I'm looking forward to going back."

The 23-year-old driver of the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series said there's a possibility that he and his team might try to make the show for The Winston Open, a prelude to The Winston on May 16. The NASCAR Busch Series, however, has a race in Nazareth, Pa., that day and the conflict may be too much to overcome. Notes Sadler recently returned from a two-day test at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. Pikes Peak, a one-mile race track, was added to the NASCAR Busch Series schedule this season.

"I think the test went very well out there, and I really like that track because it's a very fast track, very smooth," Sadler said. "It's a lot like Vegas as far as the facilities, but it's more like Richmond in its shape, kind of a D-shape. We went off a lot of notes from Richmond, and we were pleased with the results out there.

"It's a beautiful facility in a beautiful part of the country, and I think the fans coming in from other parts of the country are really going to love it. The fans out there are happy to have NASCAR, and we're happy to be able to go out there."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Elliott Sadler , Felix Sabates