Talladega II: Elliott Sadler - This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing October 1, 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup FORD FACTS AND FIGURES * Did you know that the first of Dale Earnhardt's record 10 NWC wins at Talladega came in the 1983 Talladega 500 while driving the Ford of Bud Moore? * In...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 1, 2002

NASCAR Winston Cup

FORD FACTS AND FIGURES
* Did you know that the first of Dale Earnhardt's record 10 NWC wins at Talladega came in the 1983 Talladega 500 while driving the Ford of Bud Moore?


* In three restrictor plate races this season, Ford has led only 74 out of a possible 548 laps. Chevrolet leads with 319 while Dodge is second with 106. Pontiac is fourth with 49 laps led.


* Ford has gone seven straight NASCAR Winston Cup races without a win at Talladega. The last Ford driver to reach victory lane was Dale Jarrett when he won the Winston 500 in 1998. Overall, Ford has won only two of the last 14 NWC events at Talladega (Jarrett and Mark Martin in '97).


* In fact, Jarrett and Martin are the only two active Ford drivers to ever win a NWC race at Talladega.


* The last time Ford won a restrictor plate race at either of NASCAR's two superspeedways was when Jeff Burton won the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 2000 (eight races ago).


* The last Ford driver to sit on the pole at Talladega was Jeremy Mayfield when he posted the top lap for the 2000 DieHard 500. That marks the only Ford pole at the superspeedway in the last nine races.


* In the first Talladega race this season, Ford had only one driver qualify in the top 10 (Ryan Newman, 8th), and four in the top 20 (Rusty Wallace, 13th; Mark Martin, 19th; and Kurt Busch, 20th).


* Busch was Ford's highest finisher (3rd) in the Aaron's 499 last April while three other Blue Oval drivers also posted top-10 efforts (Dale Jarrett, 6th; Wallace, 8th; and Jeff Burton, 9th).


* Ford leads all manufacturers with 10 wins this season and holds a 24-point lead over Chevrolet in the manufacturer's standings with seven races remaining.


* Ford remains the only manufacturer with at least one top-five finish in all 29 races this season.

Driver Elliott Sadler, crew chief Pat Tryson and co-owner Len Wood of the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus all think that the new fuel-cell rule will help break up the pack of cars at Talladega, and that the new rule will also add to pit strategy.

ELLIOTT SADLER-21-Motorcraft Taurus-

"I think it's got to break it up some, on pit stops. You got to make more pit stops, it puts more pressure on the guys in the pits, the crew chiefs - whether it's going to be a two-tire stop or no tires or four tires. If you do that, the driver's got to be careful to make sure that he doesn't lock his front brakes up getting into the pits and getting onto pit road. So, it's going to put a lot of pressure on everybody - which, I think, is going to break it up some. But, once you have a caution and jumble 'em back up, we're going to be together for 30 or 40 laps - especially near the end of the race. We'll have to see what happens. It'll definitely break it up during the race."

PAT TRYSON, crew chief-21-Motorcraft Taurus

INSTEAD OF ONE PACK, DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE THREE OR FOUR GROUPS?

"I think you'll probably end up with three, maybe four groups. If you watched the Daytona race at all, when we had pit stops, it got spread out and broken up into groups before that caution came out and that made it a big pack again. I think it'll probably be about three groups, maybe four."

IF YOU LOSE THE GROUP YOU'RE IN, IT'S NOT AS BAD AS IN THE PAST?

"It depends what you consider the past, I guess. If you lose one group, you better hope you can catch on to that next group, because otherwise you're in trouble. You know, the guys that get hung out, they're going to lose a lap in a hurry."

LEN WOOD, co-owner-21-Motorcraft Taurus-DO YOU THINK THE SMALLER FUEL CELL IS GOING TO DO WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO DO?

"In the past, there's been, like, 40-car, 43-car packs running around. And, these cars tend to wreck on the straightaway. Most places, you know, we tend to wreck in the corner, but those places we wreck on straightaways because they're trying to block each other. With the new fuel cell rule, you'll make more pits stops, and at Talladega a green-flag pit stop will break up the pack. You may lose five this time and then it'll separate into two packs, and then 15 up front, 15 in the middle and the rest at the back, something like that. So, hopefully, that'll break up the pack. You're still going to have wrecks, but maybe if you have a wreck with a 15-car pack you'll tear up maybe two or three rather than 20."

YOU'LL STILL HAVE TO PIT WITH SOMEBODY BECAUSE YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO TOTALLY LOSE THE DRAFT.

"Oh, yeah. Pit strategy will be at a premium done there. We should be able to run something in the neighborhood of 24 to 27 or 28 laps. But, you'll find your partner - Who's going to pit this lap? Who's going to pit the next lap? It's actually like a 12½-gallon fuel cell - that's the outside dimension. How much it actually holds, I'm not sure. It's going to hold less than that. You're down to a can or just over a can of fuel, what do you do on tires now? Do you change two? Do you change four? Do you change none? So, like I say, there's going to be a lot of pit strategy. If you only change rights, you have to be careful not to slide into the pits and flat spot your lefts. We've done that in the past, and you go out and run until the next pit stop and blow the left front and tear the fender off. It's going to be, hopefully, a new, exciting race, I hope."

IDEALLY, HOW MANY OTHER CARS DO YOU WANT TO PIT WITH? JUST YOU AND ONE OTHER ISN'T GOING TO HELP, IS IT?

"Fortunately for us, we got Roush engines and hopefully the fuel mileage will be just as good as theirs, if not better, and we may pair off with Roush cars. I would think you would need at least two other cars, at least three total. With Roush cars, we could pit, and there would be five of us. That's enough to make a pack. Five-car breakaways, that's usually what it seems to be at the end of a race, a five-car breakaway. That would be probably the best way to do it. It's going to be different groups. It's going to be different to start with, so everybody makes a couple of stops and gets into it a pretty good ways - because it's going to be different. Hopefully, it goes green and we don't get down to the end of the race and have 'em bunch up again, and then have a big one."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin