BUSCH: Elliott Sadler Las Vegas

Sadler Superb Sub for Santerre and MONRO Muffler Harrisburg, North Carolina - Elliott Sadler was a superb substitute for the injured Andy Santerre in the ...

Sadler Superb Sub for Santerre and MONRO Muffler

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Elliott Sadler was a superb substitute for the injured Andy Santerre in the #47 MONRO Muffler Brake & Service Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the NASCAR Busch Series by finishing 7th in the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 6, 1999.

Andy Santerre, the 1998 Raybestos "Rookie of the Year," fractured his tibial plateau (upper part of the large bone in the lower leg) and his fibula (small bone in the lower leg), when he was involved in a lap 24 incident in the NAPA Auto Parts 300 at Daytona International Speedway. He also suffered cartilage damage to his knee. He successfully underwent surgery on Monday, February 15, 1999 for his broken right leg at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and who was released from the hospital on Sunday, February 21, 1999. He is at home in Charlotte recovering and is expected to return June 5, 1999 at Dover Downs.

Elliott Sadler was hand picked by Santerre, MONRO Muffler, and the management of Innovative Motorsports to be Santerre's replacement driver and after a terrific run in Las Vegas, the choice seemed to be perfect.

"We are real happy with the way things went this past weekend," remarked IMI owner, George deBidart. "Elliott and Andy have a similar style and they are both able to communicate the car to the crew in about the same manner. That is real important as our crew is so used to Andy's style. Elliott was equally impressed with the team and our equipment."

Sadler, a five-time Busch Series winner, qualified 18th and was pleased with the car.

"This car was perfect," Sadler exclaimed after his qualifying attempt. "I got all there was out of it and the car stuck in the corners. It couldn't have been more perfect. We might not have been the fastest car, but we are in the show and this car is going to race well."

The IMI team worked hard on the car and knew they would be good at Las Vegas before Sadler was picked to go in the car.

"We have known all along that we have the equipment and the know how to race competitively on the Busch Series," Santerre, the injured Cherryfield, Maine native, commented. "At the end of last year when we built the new cars our way, we started racing well. We had high hopes for this season and were looking forward to consistent top-10 finishes. The equipment is still in place and the crew is still the same so there is no reason to expect we won't continue on the same path."

Sadler started the race on the outside of row nine and got caught behind a slow car early putting him back as far as 26th position at one point, but after 15 or so laps when the other cars would drop off, Sadler and the MONRO #47 started racing toward the front.

"That car is awesome," exclaimed Sadler after the race. "If all their (IMI) equipment is like that car, we have a lot to look forward to." Sadler continues, "When the other car's tires wore off, they lost their handling, but this car just started working after 15 laps. It was consistent the whole race and it went where ever I wanted it to go."

The car Sadler talks about is the same car Steve Leavitt built last season and Santerre sat on the pole with in Richmond and scored his first top-10 (Richmond) and first top-five (Gateway) finish with.

"We are real happy with that car and the chassis," mentioned Mike Greci, the team's crew chief. "It is a real consistent piece. We have three more Leavitt chassis's being built and are excited about the coming races."

Sadler drove a superb race, at one point passing Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to run in 3rd position. The team did a fantastic job in the pits and kept Sadler in the hunt the entire race.

"I'm pretty proud of this team," the 30-year old Santerre admitted. "Pit stops were a problem for us last season and the guys have worked hard practicing three times a week at the race shop, they had two green-flag pit stops during the race and they didn't lose a lot of ground. They were consistent and they kept Elliott in the race. I am real proud of them."

When the checkered flag flew, Sadler was 7th and the team earned enough points to catapult them from 47th to 31st in the standings, only 22 points out of 25th.

The MONRO Muffler Monte Carlo heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Yellow Freight 300 on Saturday, March 13, 1999.

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Drivers Jeff Gordon , Elliott Sadler , Forest B