Elliott Sadler needs to have a good run in the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Not so much to help him maintain his spot in the top ten but to help buoy his psyche. After having a good Speedweeks, Sadler's...
Elliott Sadler needs to have a good run in the No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Not so much to help him maintain his spot in the top ten but to help buoy his psyche.
After having a good Speedweeks, Sadler's season slid. He has had four finishes of 13th or worse, but last weekend at Martinsville a sixth place finish helped his confidence.
"Yeah, we're starting to build some momentum here," said Sadler. "I've been saying that the first couple weeks of racing that we were struggling a little bit and not running like we should, but we've gathered a lot of information and we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We're just getting into 2006 style of race cars. Last week was pretty much our first new race car other than Daytona and we've got another good one here this weekend with all the updates on it and we're running good again, so this team and this company is definitely getting better and better each week and I think our finishes are gonna definitely start to come."
Sadler has long been a defendant of his team and crew members as the hardest working people in the sport, but personnel changes have slowed this once winning team. Sadler has been winless in a point race since Fontana in 2004 - and last season was not an ego-builder.
Team 38 hopes that this weekend they can scare up some magic. Sadler won this event in 2004 on his way to a ninth place finish in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. He missed the Chase last season.
Sadler says the next three races are integral for this team to have a turn around, "I think all of them are very important. To us this is an important race because we have not run that great on mile and a half tracks. We ran pretty decent at Atlanta until we had problems, so this is the next test session, the next bar-setting race that we have from Atlanta. We know if we come here and run successful and be competitive that our stuff is not gonna be that bad. We feel like we can go to Charlotte in May and be very competitive.
"To us it's a great benchmark race. We think we're gonna go to Phoenix and run very well because we ran very well at Martinsville. We think we're gonna go to Talladega and have a very good race car because we ran good at Daytona. This is a very important race for us."
The 2005 season was a downward spiral for Sadler, whose crew chief Todd Parrott left late in the season and was replaced with Kevin Buskirk, an engineer at Yates. After the season end, Yates hired away Tommy Baldwin from the No. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne but Baldwin and Sadler have failed to produce solid results.
While there is always a learning curve in any new driver/crew chief relationship; the Chase format has shortened the time crews can get it together and make thing work fluidly.
"The language is a lot different," said Sadler of his relationship with Baldwin. "The way each crew chief wants to do things is a lot different. As a driver you've got to adapt to those things. Tommy and I get more and more used to each other each and every week and I'm learning the information I need to tell him to help him do his job and he's learning the information that he needs to tell me to help me do my job inside the car.
"That's just gonna come with time, but, yeah, I think a driver has just as big of a responsibility of changing as much as the crew chief does."
But Sadler doesn't have a lot of time. A strong run at Martinsville last weekend moved him back into the top 10 in standings, but it will be a fight to stay there. The all important 26th race of the season at Richmond is just 20 races away.