The Nextel: Ford - Elliott Sadler interview

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, will be holding his second annual charity event to benefit the Autism Society of America on Tuesday from 5-9 p.m. at the Concord Mills NASCAR Speedpark. Sadler spoke about the event, but...

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, will be holding his second annual charity event to benefit the Autism Society of America on Tuesday from 5-9 p.m. at the Concord Mills NASCAR Speedpark. Sadler spoke about the event, but also gave his thoughts on this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus

IT MUST BE NICE HAVING TWO WEEKS HERE IN CHARLOTTE.

"It's good to be home. As drivers, we're happy that our guys get to stay home. They travel so much and have to be at the track so early and leave so late and are away from their families, so I'm glad they have the Nextel All-Star race here in Charlotte. I hope they can keep it here a long time at Lowe's because it's good for the fans. They can stay here for the whole week and visit a lot of the shops because this is the hub of racing, but it's also great for our guys. They get to see their kids more and their families get to come to the race and it's just a great deal to be here for two weeks. I can't think of a better place you'd want to be here in the month of May. It's great weather outside and you get to spend a lot of time with your family."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE FOR HOPE?

"It's designed to raise money for the Autism Society of America and also the Victory Junction Gang Camp with Kyle and Pattie Petty. It's a pretty neat deal. Autism awareness is something that has become close to my family and close to my heart and to be able to try to raise that awareness is pretty cool. We wanted to do something to get the fans involved, something that was fun and different. A lot of guys do golf tournaments and do different things like that. We wanted to race go-karts and NASCAR Speedpark is nice enough to let us have a field day with their go-karts on Tuesday night, so we think it's gonna be cool. I've got a lot of great drivers coming to help us out. There's gonna be a lot of fan participation and the media has done a great job promoting it, just like our Hoops for Hope last year. It's been fun so far and we're looking forward to it. We've already pretty much raised more money than last year and we haven't even had the event yet. I think we've already sold over $40,000 worth of tickets and I think the fans are happy about the new format this year. Instead of watching us run up and down the basketball court making fools of ourselves, they get to be more interactive with us. They get to have dinner with their favorite driver, they get an autograph with their favorite driver or get to race with their favorite driver - things that they normally get to do. It's been great so far."

ARE YOU SEEING PEOPLE BECOMING MORE AWARE OF WHAT AUTISM IS?

"Since we started this about a year-and-a-half ago and really aligned ourselves with the Autism Society of America it has been absolutely unbelievable. All of the letters and the e-mails and stuff we get, it will make you tear up a lot of times. You never know how many people have autism until you start doing stuff like this and then letters come from everywhere. It's just great to be able to touch people's lives in a different way other than on the race track. Everybody does a great job with that. I couldn't do it without the help of the guys I race against every week. Everybody has their own special charity that they try to help and it's a family when we get together and try to help each other do this. Mine is autism and I can't thank the guys enough for really helping me with this."

HUMPY SAID YOU WERE A DARKHORSE FOR THIS RACE SATURDAY NIGHT?

"Did he? Cool. Humpy is usually on time with his picks and I'm glad he listed me as a darkhorse. I know he listed Jeff Gordon as the favorite and he picked him to win. We're gonna try to keep him from that, but to get listed as a darkhorse from Humpy is good because he knows what's going on in racing all the time. I love racing his race track. He puts on a great show and that's why I said I love the Nextel Challenge here. I hope it stays here. They do a great job for the fans. All of the fireworks and the hoopla they do before the race is really cool, so it's a lot of fun."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU AND OTHER DRIVERS TO SUPPORT CAUSES LIKE AUTISM AWARENESS?

"I think it's great. I love the way all the drivers really stick together to raise awareness for whatever their special charity is. I have loved the way the guys have really stuck together and tried to help Kyle Petty out. It takes a lot of money and time to do what he's doing and all the guys have really tried to pitch in and help any way we can. What Tony Stewart did with him was unbelievable with a check for a million bucks. We've got great friends in this racing business. We race hard against each other every Sunday or Saturday night, but when it comes down to helping each other out, I can't think of one guy that won't take the shirt off of his back to help another guy in racing. We're just kind of a close-knit family, and for these guys to help me out with my charity is phenomenal. Our time is very, very limited and to get that many great drivers to show up at one time is just phenomenal."

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE ALL-STAR RACE?

"I have a very experienced crew chief this year and I used to think it was a test session. He pretty much got me to look at a different way. We're not looking at it like that. We're either gonna bring the money back or bring the steering wheel back. We won't run near the same springs or anything for the 600 as we do the all-star race because the all-star race is 20 laps - like you're qualifying every lap. The 600 has 60 and 70 lap runs and the tires have to stay on the car, so he's pretty much guaranteed me that we're gonna have something that is gonna be fast just for 20 laps and that's what we need to have."

DO YOU HAVE A NEW CAR FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE?

"Yes. We're carrying a new car for the all-star race. If it makes it through that race and runs good, we might run it in the 600. Right now, our Texas car is on slate for the 600 and it's ready to go, but this car is supposed to be a little bit better. It's the sister to our Texas car, so if it runs good in the all-star race, we'll bring it back."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Elliott Sadler