BUSCH: Sadler Richmond Preview

RICHMOND, VA. --- Fall brings a crispness to the air, and color to the tips of tree leaves. Joining this phase of the year is a tradition known to many young men around the country -- hunting season. Hunting is native to many southerners and ...

RICHMOND, VA. --- Fall brings a crispness to the air, and color to the tips of tree leaves. Joining this phase of the year is a tradition known to many young men around the country -- hunting season. Hunting is native to many southerners and Elliott Sadler fits the bill. Born and raised in Emporia, Va., Sadler is an avid hunter.

The driver of the Phillips 66/Trop Artic Chevrolet Monte Carlo will be returning to his native Virginia when the NASCAR Busch Series makes its second stop at Richmond International Raceway for the Autolite Platinum 250 on September 11, 1998. Sadler said he always looks forward to trips carrying him back to Virginia, and even more so with the approach of hunting season.

"If you want to find me anytime between the third Monday in November and January you'll have to go out somewhere in the woods of Emporia to find me," Sadler said. "I don't have an off season, I have a hunting season.

"I can't even remember a time when I didn't hunt," Sadler said of his hobby. "The first time I went hunting I was with my dad and I was so excited. I was eight years old at the time and I remember it like it was yesterday. We got out of the truck and I saw a deer running across the way. It was an eight-point buck and the first deer I ever caught."

Since that first hunting expedition, Sadler has developed a substantial passion for the activity. The Sadler family owns about 7,000 acres of land in and around Sadler's hometown of Emporia. Hunting has become somewhat of a social enterprise for the Sadler. Hunting has spurred the development of a hunting club and the breeding of deer dogs.

"Family, friends, and business people that we have dealings with, join us a lot when we hunt," Sadler said. "It makes hunting a lot of fun. We have the 611 Hunting Club, of which my uncle is actually the president. Most of the family is in the club and we have hunting trips. We usually try to get everyone in on the decision of where we go, the time and equipment.

"We have our own deer dogs," Sadler said. "Right now we have about 25 to 30 dogs and we are looking to move that up to 50 or 60 in the next few years. We just have a lot of fun doing it." --continued-- Sadler Returns To Virginia To Hunt For A Win Page 2

While hunting proves to be a challenging activity for members of the 611 Hunting Club, hunting also proves to be an opportunity for quality family time for Sadler.

"I live in Charlotte and the rest of my family lives in or around Emporia," Sadler said. "For me, hunting gives me the chance to have some good bonding time with family members and especially my dad since he was the one who first took me hunting. Deer hunting gives you a chance to have fun but it also gives you a lot of time to sit back and think about what's going on in the world and how lucky I am to have such a close family."

As much as he is a game hunter, Sadler is a hunter of another sort. He is a hunter of wins in the NASCAR Busch Series. The one-mile oval of Richmond has become a nemesis of sorts for Sadler and the Phillips 66 Performance Racing Team. A win at Richmond for Sadler would be like winning the Super Bowl for a football player.

"We have had the worst luck at Richmond," Sadler said. "I don't know what it is about that place, but we have just never been able to hit on the set-up for our race cars there. It's been that way in qualifying and racing. If we were to get a win or even a top-10 finish there I would feel like I had just won the lottery just because it has been such a difficult track for us."

Sadler has yet to post a top-10 finish at Richmond International Raceway. He posted his best finish of 13th while driving his family-owned No. 46 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Sadler's other finishes have consisted of a 24th, 26th and his most recent finish of 21st place during the spring race at Richmond.

"We probably had one of our best cars ever for the Richmond race in June," Sadler said. "We didn't qualify real well, but when the race started we were able to make our way through the field. The car wasn't handling perfect, but it was pretty good and I was starting to feel pretty confident about getting a top-10 finish. Then, we made a pit stop and got a bad set of tires. Next thing you know, we were going one lap down to the leaders.

"It would mean more than anything for us to win at Richmond," Sadler said. "A win at Richmond for us would be better than winning at Daytona, because it is so close to my home. You always want to win anytime you're racing close to home where your friends and family are watching."

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Drivers Elliott Sadler