This Week in Ford Racing July 13, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, has been in the top 10 of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings all season. As the series breaks for its final ...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 13, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Taurus, has been in the top 10 of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings all season. As the series breaks for its final off-weekend of the season, Sadler finds himself in seventh place with only eight races remaining until the Chase for the Championship begins. He is only 26 points behind Bobby Labonte for sixth place and has a 144-point lead over 11th-place Jeremy Mayfield.
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M-s Taurus
YOU MUST BE PRETTY HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU'RE SITTING JUST PAST THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE SEASON.
"I'm very happy with the way we're running. It seems like when we have a bad weekend and we're off, we're finishing 12th or 13th as opposed to maybe 28th or 30th, so I'm really happy with the work we're doing. We're so much closer now when we get to the race track on setups, which makes the weekend go that much easier. My pit stops have been phenomenal and the guys are working together really well. It seems like we're getting stronger and stronger and we've kind of figured out what type of race cars we need to be successful. We're building more in that area and we'll have them ready by the time the race for the championship comes, so I'm really looking forward to that part of the season."
CAN YOU POINT YOUR FINGER ON WHY YOUR TEAM IS SO MUCH BETTER THIS YEAR AS OPPOSED TO LAST?
"I just think with Todd coming on board it's made the difference. He is so good with aerodynamics and he's really got these bodies where they need to be. Kevin has come on board from an engineering standpoint and we're just light-years ahead of where we were last year. We've got a better group of guys and a better core group of guys. We've all got a year under our belt now of working together. Raymond (Fox) has been a great translator between Todd and I with what things I liked last year and didn't like, so we've weeded out all the stuff to try before we get to the track and it's all working out good for us. I think communication is the key and that's why we're gonna get better as the year goes on."
YOU'RE ONE OF THE GUYS WHO KEEPS TRACK OF THE POINTS AND YOU KNOW WHERE EVERYBODY IS IN THE STANDINGS AREN'T YOU?
"I want to be prepared mentally. I played a lot of sports growing up and I learned that the more you're prepared mentally before you even get to the ballpark or the football field or the basketball gym, the better you're gonna perform and understand what's going on. Every Sunday night and Monday I'm studying the points and looking at who we gained on and who we lost to and why. I also try to project what we have to do the next one or two races to be where we want to be, so right now we're just trying to be consistent. We're trying to finish races and log laps. We want to stay ahead of the 11th-place guy as much as we can in points until we get to the race for the championship and then it will be no holds barred. But right now, we're really trying to play the points game because with the new points system those are the rules you have to play by. I'm just a student of the game and I really want to learn it and figure out what's good and what's bad and who I'm racing. I'm not racing the 48 and the 24 and the 8, which is who the media is talking about all the time. I don't read the papers to figure out what they're doing. I'm trying to figure out what the 42 and the 19 and the 9 and the 6 and some of those guys are doing. They're the people we're really racing to try to get in that top 10 in points."
DO YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD WITH WHERE YOU'RE AT IN POINTS RIGHT NOW?
"Anything can happen because that's part of racing, but I do feel good where we're at. At least we're on the inside looking out, instead of the outside looking in. I see what my teammate is going through trying to battle his way back towards the top 10 and there's a lot more stress going on with that team than ours because of that and I can understand that. So I'd rather be where I'm at, but I'm not comfortable by any means - not until the checkered flag falls at Richmond and we're in the top 10. Then I'll be ready to race, but, until then, I'm sure we're gonna have some stressful weeks with some hard times and some good times. We've got eight more races and 140 points on 11th place, so if we can just keep being consistent and doing the things we know we're capable of doing, we should be fine."
ANY TRACKS COMING UP THAT REALLY WORRY YOU?
"I guess I'd have to say Watkins Glen. I really want to do good there. We ran great at Infineon, but anything can happen at Watkins Glen. You can run off the track and get stuck in the sand to put you a lap down and there's no free pass there, so Watkins Glen is one we've got marked off on the calendar. When we get there, we want to already have a good cushion before we get to that race track. That's probably the place we're worried about the most. We think we'll be fine at Indy. We'll be fine at Michigan. We'll be fine at Pocono if things go our way. We've got a really good short- track car for Loudon, so right now Watkins Glen is the one that's kind of etched out in my mind."
BRISTOL IS A TRACK WHERE ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, BUT YOU LIKE RACING THERE SO THAT DOESN'T CONCERN YOU AS MUCH?
"I think by the time Bristol gets here we'll know whether we have a chance of staying in the top 10 or not. The next three, four or five races is what I'm worried about. I'm not really as concerned about the last two or three because we should know by then whether we're in or not. I'm not really worried about Richmond. We should know whether we're in or not by either Bristol or California. The places we've got to run good at now are the next four or five races. If we run good and do our job at those places, we shouldn't have any worries by the time we get to Bristol."