TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Elliott Sadler — Notes & Quotes
Kansas Speedway – April 19, 2013
ELLIOTT SADLER, No. 81 ALERT Energy Gum Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How important is it to be back in a Sprint Cup Series car?
“It is — it’s definitely a great opportunity and I think that’s the biggest thing that I know as a person is the opportunity is given to me to be able to race here in Kansas and also here in a couple weeks at Talladega. I can’t thank Coach (Joe) Gibbs (team owner) and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) and everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for giving me this chance to get back in Cup race and also for ALERT Energy Gum to come on board to really put this all together to make this possible. It’s neat, it’s fun — I feel like a kid in a candy store all over again. Almost like the first day of high school. It’s been a great feeling this week getting ready and getting prepared to come here to Kansas this weekend.”
Are you looking forward to race in the 2013 Camry?
“Gen-6 car definitely drives a lot different than the last time I’ve been in some Cup cars on the intermediate style of race track. I tested a few Gen-6 cars this winter for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) at New Smyrna so I’ve been in them a little bit. Definitely different from the last time that I was here at Kansas in a Cup car. Definitely a fast race car. They look sharp — it’s a good looking car and seems to be putting on some really good races so far this year. Glad I get to try one now in real racing conditions. We’re looking forward to this weekend to learn more about what this car gives us and how is it to drive in traffic and restarts and all the things you have to go through as a race car driver so we’re looking forward to that.”
What does this opportunity mean to your future?
“It means a lot and it means a lot to me personally I think more than anything. I want people to really understand that it means a lot to me personally for these guys — this takes a lot of effort to do what they call a ‘one-off’ team. You have to bring extra guys in, you have to build extra cars, you have to do extra research, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has to build extra engines. There’s a lot that goes into running a couple races here, so it’s a big commitment from J.D. (Gibbs, team president) and his guys. It means a lot to me personally for them to give me this opportunity where they can evaluate me in their equipment and we’ll just take it from there. Like I said before, I understand the opportunity that’s being placed in front of me and we want to make the most of it, take advantage of it and see where this road leads us.”
Have your kids impacted your career?
“That’s a really good question and I’ve tried to explain this to people and then I saw Kevin Harvick one day kind of say this same thing that I’ve been saying a couple years before his son was born — my kids have made me a better race car driver for a lot of different reasons, but mainly because you want your kids to look up to you and you want to set a good example too. Whatever you’re doing, you want to do it right and focus on it and you want to do it to the best of your ability. I don’t want to be a failure for my kids. I want to be someone they can look up to and I feel like the last three years, I’m a better race car driver now mentally and physically than I was eight or nine years ago. I’m more prepared and I think a lot of that comes from my kids, especially my son because he’s a little bit older so he’s been around a little bit more. I think definitely having them around has made me probably appreciate good stuff that happens to us at the race track and good times spent at home. I think at the end of the day, it’s definitely made me more of a focused driver than I was eight or nine years ago.”
What are the expectations for this team?
“That’s a good question and I haven’t been in a Cup car in a while. When I got in it this morning, it’s a lot different than it was a couple years ago so it took me a couple laps to get used to it. As far as expectations, we are coming to throw caution to the wind and hopefully can use some pit strategy and take some chances and maybe do some things that some other teams can’t do. Let’s try to lead some laps and win the race. We’re not coming here and say if we finish 20th or 25th or whatever, I don’t know, I’m just making up a number and be happy. If I was a rookie and had never raced before then I would say, ‘Yeah, that’s a realistic goal that I would be happy with.’ But me, being in this series and have won in this series and have sat on poles in this series, we’re coming here to Kansas we’re going to do the best we can. If we have a chance to take some chances and get ourselves a really good finish and finish up front then we’re going to do that. The next two races are Talladega where anything goes and I have a pretty good track record there too with leading laps and running up front. We really feel like honestly that we can come here and be very, very competitive for these three races.”
How was your car in practice?
“The car was pretty good in practice. I haven’t been in one of these things in a while so I hadn’t been on bump stops in a while so it took me a couple laps to really get a feel for that. I’ve been really leaning on Matt Kenseth a lot this week and stuff trying to get the feel of what he’s looking for in practice to be good in the race because it’s my first time in a Gen-6 car at this style of race track. It actually drove pretty good — the motor feels great. We have an okay draw for qualifying — maybe a little earlier than we want, but our goal today is to make sure we don’t do anything stupid and make sure we’re in the race and then we can really start being aggressive tomorrow and getting ready for the race on Sunday.”
Do you have a backup car for the Cup race?
“Yes, we do have a backup car in case something happens, but of course it does not have the time and thought and energy in it that this first car does. This first car has been to the wind tunnel. It has been massaged on the last couple of weeks. We’ve got it as good as we can get it leaving the shop. The backup car is never always prepared 100 percent as the first car is. But, we do have one in case something silly happens. That wasn’t a bad question. You can ask me that.”
Will the Cup races assist you on the Nationwide side?
“Well, I think honestly the last couple of years I’ve shown that I can run for a championship. We’ve been very close and I think the biggest thing when you get out of a Cup car that has so much more horsepower and sends you into the corner so much faster. When you get back in a Nationwide car, it’s a huge advantage. You really feel like you can manhandle that car a lot more. That’s the biggest thing. It’s almost — I wish I was running the Cup car and the Nationwide car on the same weekend because you get back in the Nationwide car it feels like you’re running 50 miles an hour and you can really man handle that thing around. That is really the biggest difference and I think why a lot of these guys are going back and forth racing these races the way they are. As far as running for a championship, of course I learned experiences through my Cup career that I try to use in the Nationwide Series these last couple years, but I think that’s just experience all together — not necessarily what particular series I’m in.”