ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 1st) NOTE: This is Sadler's second pole of the season and the first for Ford since Sadler's pole-winning run at Darlington in the fifth race of the season. That does not count poles that were ...
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus (Qualified 1st)
NOTE: This is Sadler's second pole of the season and the first for Ford since Sadler's pole-winning run at Darlington in the fifth race of the season. That does not count poles that were awarded by points due to qualifying being cancelled.
"I think it's pretty cool. This is the first time since I sat on the pole at Darlington that a Ford has been back on the pole anytime this year, so that's two out of three poles for Ford and two for me. I'm really glad that happened today. I think the Fords have been lacking on the restrictor plate program a little bit, so Doug and Robert have really stepped up their program with testing and things - working day and night to make sure DJ and I have had some great restrictor plate cars when we showed up and it's paid off. We qualified third here in the spring and that wasn't good enough for Doug and the team, so we went home and did some more homework and came back. I was just the lucky guy driving the wheels today. I think it was an advantage to go early while all of the greases and oils and things were still hot, so we used that to our advantage and it seemed to pay off for us."
DID YOU THINK IT WAS AN ADVANTAGE TO GO EARLY AT THE TIME? "Yeah. When I came in I was like, 'Where did we draw to qualify,' and when they said fourth, I said, 'Good.' We went out early here in the spring and I think the top here in the spring qualifying were in the top 12 to go out and qualify. It's never a disadvantage to go out here at Talladega because handling is not an issue as far as the heat is concerned. But keeping your oils and greases and wheel bearings and everything warm - hub grease and things - is a big advantage. We actually went out second behind Bobby Labonte and that was a good advantage for us. It was not really windy at the time and we were able to back up pretty close to what we ran in practice and everything worked out OK."
WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER YOUR LAP? "As soon as I got out of the race car on pit road and finished the interviews, I went directly to my coach. We did not watch it on TV. We did not have any radios on. Actually, EA Sports just sent me the new 2004 NASCAR game, so we played that for two-and-a-half hours. We just took our whole mind off of it and did that. Then Amy (Walsh) came and got me and told me, 'You might ought to get dressed. You might have to go do some interviews.' I was like, 'I'm not moving until that 48 car goes out. After he goes out, then I'll go get ready.' So that's kind of what I did to take my mind off things. I've got enough gray hair as it is. I don't think I can sit through two-and-a-half hours of qualifying waiting for the 48 to go out, so I kind of just did that to make my mind off of it."
DID YOU RACE TALLADEGA? "Yeah, we played Talladega a few times. I won one and my PR guy wrecked me on one of them, so I didn't really do too good the second race."
WHAT CAR DID YOU RACE? "I was driving my today. It was fast, so I picked mine."
WHAT ABOUT NASCAR'S RULES JUGGLING. WILL IT MAKE FOR A BETTER RACE? "I think it's gonna help the drivers with the throttle response. I think before with so much horsepower taken away from the motors, we felt like if we had to lift any and got out of line any at all that we could not get back in line or we would be left too far behind. Now with the way the spoilers and the restrictor plates are done, I think we can be a little more patient. If we have to lift to let a guy in, we're not gonna get freight-trained because we do have the throttle response left, plus the bigger spoilers are gonna put a little bit more of a hole in the air so we'll be able to suck up a little bit better. I think it's gonna be a tighter pack, but I do think the driver's will be able to make better decisions because of the package we have now. I'm just speculating right now until I get in practice tomorrow morning. The closure rates are gonna be a lot different this time than what they were in the spring racing around guys, so we just have to go off that and make some adjustment and, hopefully, that will affect us forSunday."
IS IT A TOUGH BALANCE TO GET CLOSE AND SAFE RACING HERE? "It is at Talladega. No rule changes that we're gonna see in restrictor plate racing is gonna really affect you at Talladega. This place is as wide as a football field and you're in the corner so long and it's so high-banked that handling is not an issue. I think they could come out here and shave half of our spoilers off and it's not gonna affect us here like it will at Daytona. I think they're just gonna try something here, see if it affects us, see if we like it and then they'll have a good idea of what to do for the Daytona 500 next spring. That's our best race of the season, so we don't mind trying stuff here to make sure we have a good race when we start there next season."
TWO CARS HAD THEIR TIMES DISALLOWED. HOW MUCH OF A DISADVANTAGE IS IT FOR THEM TO GO TO THE REAR? "I don't know. I don't think it's a disadvantage at all. It seemed like to me he (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) started last here in the spring race because of an engine change and the next I know he was up there leading on lap whatever. He got up there and won the race, so that's definitely the car no matter where he starts. That's who we're gonna have to outrun - him and the 15. Yeah, I know he would like to be up a lot closer to the front so he could get his own pit selection and things like that. I'm sure they'll have the problem cured for Sunday - Tony (Eury) and the guys will and he'll be the guy we're gonna have to beat. Yeah, he's gonna probably have to take his time the first few laps, but he did it in the spring and missed the wreck and he was the man at the end of the race and the guy you've got to beat. He's probably not gonna like where he's got to start, but we all know he'll be up there at the end of the race and he'll be the one pulling the train around the most. We've just got to figure out how to get around him."
IS IT OK FOR THE FANS TO BE SKEPTICAL THAT EVERYBODY IS GETTING A FAIR SHAKE WITH ALL OF THE INCIDENTS HERE AT THIS TRACK WITH THE 8 CAR? "I don't know if I would go that far. I think the fans will hopefully think that NASCAR is doing the best they can to give everybody a fair shake. But as a driver and a competitor in this sport, I would like to see if anybody breaks the rules - no matter who it is - we all get the same fines. We all get the same suspension or whatever. I don't care if you're a 16th/32nd low or whatever the rules may be - what color the car is it doesn't matter - just everybody get penalized the same. That's all we care about. Fined or points. I think points are better than anything. If they start taking away more and more points from these teams, I think they'd start using their heads a little better when they show up at race track and stop all this nonsense. Hopefully, that's the route they'll go with in the future, but I hope the fans know that NASCAR does everything they can do. They have the worst situation as far as we have 50 different teams showing up with 50 different engineers and 50 different ideas of different ways to bend the rules and they're catching up. The best way they can find out about it is after they've already found it at the race track, so they're kind of in a hard position right now. They usually act pretty quickly, but I think if they make this stuff a little harsher and the penalties a little worse, that some of these teams will use their heads a little better."
WAS IT ASKED LAST WEEK ABOUT HOW THE YELLOW WILL WORK THIS WEEK? "Yeah, because we asked them at Dover about here. We're gonna be three-wide and things like that. As the caution comes out, they want us to use our heads and try to figure out what car we're behind. We know Sunday it's gonna be hard because we're gonna be three wide the whole race. They said they're gonna try to use every camera angle they've got, transponder, whatever they can use to figure out where everybody is gonna be. That's the best situation we're in at this moment. Mike Helton said it the best, 'This is a brand new rule for everybody. We're gonna have to tweak with it some and if the drivers use their head and work with everybody, this should be fine.' I just hope the guys are gonna keep in their head that safety is the number one issue. That's why we're doing this - to quit trying to take advantage everytime the caution comes out. I think as drivers, you kind of know where you're gonna be at when the caution comes out. We all, I would think would know where you're gonna be at or they shouldn't be driving. Hopefully we won't try to take advantage of each other and everything will work out smoothly Sunday. The only question in my mind that's gonna be tough is that this is a big pack in Talladega - we take the white and then we're coming back it's gonna be tough to figure out how to let off, who to race back, who not to. That's probably gonna be a tough question here at Talladega, but, hopefully, we won't have that happen here."