Harrisburg, North Carolina - Elliott Sadler, current Winston Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" competitor and interim driver of the ...
Harrisburg, North Carolina - Elliott Sadler, current Winston Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" competitor and interim driver of the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series, turned in a stupendous qualifying effort to start the Yellow Freight 300 only to have the rear-end give out while racing in the top-five at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 13, 1999.
Sadler, who is filling in for the injured Andy Santerre, was competitive all weekend long and, with a car set up by the improved MONRO Racing crew, he qualified fourth in a field of 65 cars.
"The car was really running," Sadler, a five-time Busch Series winner, explained. "These guys are a great bunch of guys and they are fun to work with. I think this team is going to surprise a few people this season." Sadler adds, "We were a little slow out of the box, the car was bottoming out bad, but the crew worked hard to fix it and give me what I needed. We time-trialed fourth, and we are all real happy about that effort."
Friday dawned bright with high hopes from everyone involved with Innovative Motorsports. The season before, the team took the last provisional starting spot to make the field and this year they were fourth in the field. They were on their way, until a blown motor put a wrench in their plans.
"We're not sure what caused the motor to blow," Mike Greci, the team's crew chief, stated. "It is pretty tore up though. We'll have to get it back to the shop and take a closer look at it."
The crew worked feverishly to replace the motor and made it in time for happy hour. Even with the back up motor they were eighth fastest and were looking forward to the race.
"I'm real excited for the guys," Andy Santerre, the full-time but currently injured driver of the IMI team, expressed. "They have worked hard building good race cars and they deserved that effort. We knew before I was injured that we would be a lot more competitive at some of these tracks and Elliott is helping them to prove that."
When the green-flag waved on the Yellow Freight 300 Sadler shot out to the lead. He lead for two laps before being over taken by eventual race winner, Dave Blaney.
"The car was really hauling," the 23-year old Sadler said. "For a back-up motor, she was pulling hard. I was content to ride in the top-three and see what happened. What happened though, is not what we expected."
The rear-end seal gave out on lap 20, forcing the #47 MONRO Racing Chevrolet onto pit road. After a brief glance, the crew elected to take the car behind the wall. Upon closer inspection, it was determined that a seal had blown on the rear end and the MONRO Muffler Chevy was out of the race.
"Equipment failure is part of this business," Sadler admitted. "It just seems like it happens at the worst times. We had a great car and the team worked hard to get it there. A faulty seal took away a top-five car, it is a shame, but at least the car is in one piece. We'll get them at Darlington."
The team was unofficially in 42nd position after the race, but a disqualification of the leader elevated them to a 41st finishing position. They received an additional five bonus points for leading the race as well.
Next weekend the team will be at Darlington Raceway for the Diamond Hill Plywood 200.