This Week in Ford Racing September 28, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, has made a habit this season out of posting top-10 finishes at tracks where he had previously struggled during his...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 28, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, has made a habit this season out of posting top-10 finishes at tracks where he had previously struggled during his six-year NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career. As the circuit heads to Talladega this weekend, Sadler will once again try to improve on a record that shows only one top-five and two top-20 finishes in 10 Cup starts.
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
WHAT'S THE REASON FOR THE TURNAROUND AT TRACKS WHERE YOU HAVE HISTORICALLY NOT DONE WELL?
"I think Todd and I have jelled so well together this year and I've got a lot of confidence. I've learned a lot from a great teammate. I learned so much from him last year and this winter and he's got me so focused and so understanding of what I need to be good at and what I need to be working on and that gives you confidence inside the race car. You kind of know what you're looking for, instead of just riding around there lost. Maybe you don't know what you're looking for or don't know how the car needs to be on Saturday to be good on Sunday. I think that's the biggest gain I've made as a driver - I know how I want my car to feel on Saturday to be good on Sunday. We've been able to figure that out that last few months and we're going to a lot of places where maybe I've struggled in the past, but we're getting good results now and getting that good feeling."
DOES TODD HAVE TO PUMP YOU UP WHEN YOU GO TO A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVEN'T DONE WELL BEFORE?
"We really don't talk about it. We talk about whether or not we qualified good the first race and just try to come up with a good setup. We know we've got good race cars and that gives me all the confidence in the world. I feel like I can take my car to a track I've never seen before and run good at it and that's the kind of confidence this team has. When we unload every week, we've got the car so close that it just builds me up and builds my momentum up inside the seat. That gives me the opportunity to really search around and find lines that I think I can use on Sunday. But they don't have to pump me up because I think we're so fired up right now as far as running good that they don't really have to go to a track and say, 'OK, we know we don't run well here so we're gonna try something different this week.' We've got so much confidence right now in each other and with what the car is telling us and what I'm telling them, that we think we can go anywhere right now and run good."
TALLADEGA IS A PLACE WHERE STATISTICALLY YOU HAVE ONLY ONE TOP 10 IN 11 CAREER STARTS. YOU'RE HOPING TO TURN THINGS AROUND THERE LIKE YOU HAVE AT THESE OTHER PLACES, RIGHT?
"Yeah. I do have to say that Talladega is one race that I'm scared to death to go to. I can't wait until next Sunday night. So many things can happen to you that is out of your control. We're gonna do everything we can to run good there. We know we're gonna have a good car there. I'm taking my favorite speedway car that we've got, the one I ran in the Bud Shootout, and we know it's gonna be fast. I don't have great finishes there, but I think I've run good and led some laps and run in the top five, but we just couldn't put it all together at the right time. We just have to go down there and have some good luck, stay out of trouble and run all 500 miles. That's a place that I'm scared to death of for this championship. If you get pounded out there and get a big deficit, it's almost impossible to make it up. So that's a place we want to see all 500 miles."
SO TALLADEGA IS THE WILD-CARD RACE?
"Oh God, yeah. I've said that from the very beginning that Talladega is definitely the wild-card race. No matter how good you think you're gonna be or how good your car is, how good you qualify, it's just a case that when you have 43 guys on top of each other for three-and-a-half hours anything can happen. It's just a dangerous race. It's a dangerous race for points. There's a lot more you can lose than gain at Talladega, so that's a place we just want to get through. I really think deep down in my heart that the chase actually starts after Talladega. You kind of know who is a contender and who is not after we leave that race track next week."
TODD PARROTT , Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN PUT YOUR FINGER ON AS TO WHY ELLIOTT HAS IMPROVED SO MUCH AT TRACKS WHERE HE HISTORICALLY HAS NOT DONE WELL?
"I think it's just stuff that he and I have talked about - places that I've been fortunate enough to run well at and places that I like a lot. He likes those places, but has never had any success. So I think it's just been a matter of taking the right car and getting the right setup under it and getting it comfortable for him - getting the car good enough to where he can stay out of trouble and stay out front."
IS IT REALLY JUST A CASE OF CONFIDENCE?
"I think so. This year his confidence level has been in another zone. Last year with everything that went on his confidence was beaten way down. We wrecked a lot and I think he just tried too hard. It was his first year driving for Robert Yates Racing and I think he felt like he was expected to win in his first season and run up front every week. I think he put the car in positions that it wasn't ready to be in and it got himself in trouble. This year, we sat down over the winter and came out with a plan of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. Plus, he's talked to DJ a lot. I think over the winter they spent a lot of time together and Dale explained to him that all he has to do is what he does best and that's drive a race car. Elliott's driven with a lot of confidence this year and the team has a lot of confidence in him."
WHAT HAVE YOU PERSONALLY DONE FOR HIM? HAVE YOU TAKEN AWAY SOME OF THE STUFF HE USED TO TRY AND DO LIKE SETUPS AND ADJUSTMENTS?
"Exactly. I think it was a matter of him trying to get the car set up and telling the guys what springs and other things the car needed. This year we've worked on our stuff as a group - me, Raymond (Fox), our whole group - and we talked about what we needed to do and where we need to be. We've got great race cars and a great fab shop. The guys building the chassis back at the shop have been great and the Yates/Roush engines have been strong all year long. Everybody has just done a great job and when you add a little bit of experience to all that, it just gives everybody a lot of confidence that they're going to do well."