Sadler and MONRO Crew Go the Distance at Nashville Harrisburg, North Carolina - Elliott Sadler, current Winston Cup Series "Rookie of the Year" competitor and interim driver of the ...
Sadler and MONRO Crew Go the Distance at Nashville
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, struggled in qualifying but bounced back to finish 16th in the Bell South Mobility 320 at Nashville Speedway USA in Nashville, Tennessee on Saturday, April 3, 1999.
Sadler, who is filling in for the injured Andy Santerre, spent his Winston Cup weekend off driving the MONRO Chevrolet around the .596-mile short track of Nashville.
"I had already planned on going to the race to watch and hang out," Sadler, who is coming off his career best Winston Cup finish, 10th, at Texas, admits. "I'd rather be at the race track racing than watching. I agreed to sub with the #47 until Andy (Santerre) returned and this race just happened to fall on an off weekend for the Cup."
The MONRO Racing crew and engine builders, Dave MacMaster and Joe Varde, worked real hard all week trying to pinpoint an engine problem the team had been having since Las Vegas. The team had lost four motors either in the race or in practices the first part of the season and they were baffled as to what the problem might be. After numerous discussions with other engine builders and teams, they believe they have narrowed the problem down.
"We are confident we've got the problem isolated," Mike Greci, the team's crew chief, explained. "We are pretty sure it is a combination of a manufactured part failure and lack of oil. We adjusted the oil and replaced the part on the motor we had in the car at Nashville and we made it through the entire race with no problems."
They were running well at Nashville, finishing sixth on the sheet after the two-hour practice and certain they had a shot at the Bud Pole position. Sadler was trying real hard to get that pole, a little too hard as the car got real loose on him, he lost momentum when he had to get out of the throttle and that relegated the team to a 31st place starting spot.
"I guess I was trying too hard," the 24-year old Sadler confessed. "I drove it in real hard and the car didn't stick. It went up the racetrack, I had to chase it and get off the gas. It screwed up my first lap and took momentum off my second lap. I did my best but overdid it a little, we made the show anyway."
The #47 started the Bell South Mobilty 320 on the inside of row 16 with the hopes of moving up through the pack without getting lapped. When the green flag dropped that is just what Sadler did, racing from 31st to 24th in a matter of laps. Sadler continued to race around the 24th position, comfortably ahead of the leaders."
A caution on lap 164 gave the team the break they were looking for; it bunched the field up and allowed them a chance to fuel and change tires. But as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. On the restart, the middle of the field got bunched up when the #53 car spun and the chain reaction forced Sadler, and numerous other cars, to lose valuable ground to the hard charging leaders. No caution was thrown and within 25 laps the #47 was a lap down.
"We needed that caution, but we didn't need what happened after," Sadler mentioned. "I don't know what happened in front of me, all I know is that the field bunched up and I had to get on the brakes hard. I lost a lot of momentum and distance to the leaders."
The MONRO racing team never gave up though. They continued trying to work on the car, trying to get it right for Sadler. A late race caution and pit stop displaced us to the rear of the lapped traffic line, but Sadler powered back through the field to gain eight positions and finish 16th, one lap down.
"If you don't win or have a top-five, you always wish you could have been better," Sadler justified. "But all in all, the guys did a great job on the pit stops, we just missed the set-up a little bit. The motor held together and that is a step in the right direction. We'll just put our nose to the grindstone and go get them at Bristol."
Sadler and the MONRO Racing team head to Bristol for the Moore's Snacks 250 on Saturday, April 10, 1999. The team will be debuting a sister car to the car Andy Santerre built last year that sat on the pole at Richmond.
"We are going to have a spectacular car there," Santerre, the 1998 Raybestos "Rookie of the Year" confessed. "It is a mate to the car I built last year. It is an awesome piece, the chassis, the body, everything. We have real high expectations heading into Bristol." Santerre continues, "I wish I was the one piloting the car, but Elliott is the defending race winner and I trust him to do a great job. He is obviously capable of it and he might even score the team's first win."
The race will be televised on ESPN at 1:00 PM EST.