Sadler to drive for Woods in 1999 By Shawn A. Akers DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 4, 1998) The Wood Brothers and Elliott Sadler announced Friday at Darlington Raceway that Sadler has signed a multi-year contract to drive the No. 21 Citgo Ford in...
Sadler to drive for Woods in 1999 By Shawn A. Akers
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 4, 1998) The Wood Brothers and Elliott Sadler announced Friday at Darlington Raceway that Sadler has signed a multi-year contract to drive the No. 21 Citgo Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, beginning in 1999.
A two-year veteran of the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division, Sadler, the current driver of the No. 66 Phillips 66 Chevrolet, will replace Michael Waltrip, who announced recently that he would not return to drive for the Wood Brothers next season.
Sadler will complete his second full season in the NASCAR Busch Series this year. He has been hoping, he said, that a solid NASCAR Winston Cup Series driving opportunity would come his way for next season and beyond.
"We were just kind of shopping around a little bit," said Sadler, currently ninth in the point standings with one win this season. "My dream has always been to make it to Winston Cup. We were looking to try to do it with Diamond Ridge next year, and sponsors just never evolved. I do want to say right now on the record that Gary Bechtel has been unbelievably nice to me and gave me a great opportunity, but we just could never get things worked out.
"The Wood Brothers came along and that's a great race team. If you talk to everybody in the garage, they talk about how nice a team it is. The history behind that team, looking at them with David Pearson and the races they've won and the legendary status that team has got, I think it's great for me to be associated with somebody like that. So that was a big part of it."
Sadler has been pegged as one of the up-and-coming talents in NASCAR racing. Last season, he scored his first three NASCAR Busch Series wins in his first full campaign in the series, and finished in the top-five in the point standings.
"We are looking forward to having Elliott in our program," said team co-owner and crew chief Eddie Wood. "He has proven himself to be a smart, patient and talented driver in the Busch Series, and we believe he will have great success in Winston Cup racing."
The Wood Brothers, Glen and Len, are natives of Virginia, as is the 23-year-old Sadler.
"That didn't hurt, so that kind of throws an interesting twist into it," Sadler said. "I'm just looking forward to getting started. We're going to go to Japan and make our debut together there because it's not a points race. We figure we can learn from each other a lot over there and try to build from that. We know it's gonna be tough. Every rookie that goes to Winston Cup it's tough, but we're looking forward to the challenge, looking forward to doing it together and we hope to have some good success out of it."
Sadler and the Wood Brothers will be together for the first time in the NASCAR exhibition race at Motegi, Japan, in November.
Sadler joins Buckshot Jones and Tony Stewart among the prominent names who will run for Rookie of the Year honors next season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Sadler's first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race was the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, where he finished a disappointing 42nd with engine problems while driving a No. 92 Gary Bechtel-owned Chevrolet. He'll also try to qualify for this Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi Southern 500, and has plans to drive in at least two more events this season, possibly three.
In three years with the team, Waltrip has failed to make it to Victory Lane in a points race in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He's 15th in the standings this season, but has produced only four top-10 and no top-five finishes in 1998.
Waltrip announced last month that he would seek employment elsewhere at the end of this season. Earlier this season, the Wood Brothers announced a relationship with Roush Racing.
Source: NASCAR Online