Talladega: Elliott Sadler race report

Sadler third in Talladega. TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 6, 2003) -- Elliott Sadler scored the first top-5 finish in "M&M's"® Racing history in a nail biting 500 miles at Talladega Superspeedway. Tensions were high in the early goings of the Aaron's...

Sadler third in Talladega.

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 6, 2003) -- Elliott Sadler scored the first top-5 finish in "M&M's"® Racing history in a nail biting 500 miles at Talladega Superspeedway.

Tensions were high in the early goings of the Aaron's 499. It only took four laps for the dreaded "Big One" to take place. The wreck started when a tire went down on Ryan Newman's car, sending him upside down and spinning in front of the entire field. Sadler's "M&M's" Ford was a rocket as he qualified in the third position and was well in front of the wreck that disabled 14 cars.

Pit strategy was the theme of the day as Sadler hung on to the lead draft until he was he was clipped by a spinning Michael Waltrip on lap 82. The "M&M's" Ford suffered damage to the right front. The sheet metal needed to be banged out under caution and Sadler caught back up with the leaders. On lap 90 Sadler was running in the 14th position when two cars spun out in front of him. All the cars in front checked up causing Sadler to run into the rear end of Robbie Gordon.

Sadler's trials were not over for the day as the temperatures on the "M&M's" car began to creep upwards. The temperatures continued to climb in the water and oil until lap 126 when he brought the car to the attention of the candy crew to pull the grill out and repair the damage. Veteran tire changer and car chief Shawn Parker went over the wall twice throughout the day to make repairs on the No. 38 car.

Sadler entered the final pit stop of the day third. The team gave him fuel only and sent him out as the leader on lap 153. Sadler then stayed in the lead draft right down to the nail biting end. He raced his way from eighth to third in the closing two laps of what was an exhausting day.

"I am so proud of this team," said Sadler. "My spotter Brett (Griffin) did an incredible job all day long. He kept me calm and informed all day long. This "M&M's" team never, ever gave up. Raymond (Fox) made good calls in the pits and Shawn (Parker) was over the wall fixing the car. I never expected to come out of here third. I never expected to start third either -- the car was just incredible. To give "M&M's" and Doug and Robert Yates a third place finish at a monster like Talladega, well, I just can't say enough about this team." The garage area resembled the post race from a short track like Bristol, as it seemed not a single car escaped the wild banks of Talladega without sheet metal damage or duct tape holding it together.

The Robert Yates Racing team built Sadler a new car for Martinsville where Elliott will make his 150th career start. He is now 10th in the Winston Cup point standings after eight races.

-ryr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Ryan Newman , Shawn Parker , Robert Yates , Elliott Sadler
Teams Yates Racing