The Media Visits The Mms Shop
January 22, 2003 | 2:10 P.M. EST
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus: "I don't really know how to start this off other than saying, hey man, I'm just as happy as a kid in a candy store. I'm just very happy to be here and I'd like to welcome all of you to our new home. I think this is going to be the biggest change in Robert Yates Racing that I've seen in a long time. The dedication and teamwork I've seen already is unbelievable. I think the commitment Robert and Richard have made with this building, with the engine shop and the chassis shop is like something I've never been a part of before. It just makes me very proud to be a part of this organization. I think the way the teams are structured this year is going to give us great success. We have two, young, hungry crew chiefs with Raymond Fox and Brad Parrott. Both feel like they've got a lot to prove and there's a lot of success that's going to be on their plate for a long time and I just want to be a part of it. They've got a great leader with Todd Parrott, who has been there-done that. He's won the Daytona 500 a few times and won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship to lead them along the way. I'll take that setup over anything that anybody else has in Winston Cup racing. Also with Doug Yates becoming general manager and the emphasis he has put on everything is impressive. He's really got these guys corralled behind me and it seems like we're all going in the same direction. It doesn't even seem like the same team I signed with six months ago. It seems like we're light years ahead than where we were back then, so the progress we've made since he's come in and the progress I think Raymond and I have made has been unbelievable. So the dedication that they have shown to me tells me that they're ready to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship. To have a teammate like Dale Jarrett is unbelievable. I've never had a teammate in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, so to have somebody that I look up to, not only as a teammate but also as a person and what he stands for in racing and what he stands for as a gentleman on and off the race track, to have him teach and lead me in the right direction in a lot of ways is something more than I could ever ask for. To have a teammate like him this early in my career is going to be great. I'm looking forward to winning a few races. I have two goals coming into this season and I think we can obtain them if we do the right things. One, I want to win a NASCAR Winston Cup championship. I want to win it this year. I don't want to wait. I'm not on a three or four-year plan. I want to win it this year. I think we can do that with the stuff I've seen. If we can't win it, I want to do everything I can as a teammate so the 88 UPS car can win it. So those are some goals I've set for myself and for this team and I think we can get it done. I think we showed it when we went to Daytona with how fast we tested and with how things have been going this winter, we're really jelling together. The equipment we have in this shop and the engine stuff I've seen at the other shop makes me believe we can get it done. I'm just glad to be here and glad to be a part of this organization. My mom and dad always taught me that there's one thing that will make you feel better than anything else in the world and that's to give back. I really want to give back to Robert and Richard and Doug and to everybody that's made my dreams come true. I want to give those guys back some wins and a championship. It's pretty cool to have one of your best friends to share a common goal with and that's to win a championship with Robert Yates Racing, so I'm looking forward to trying to do that here in the future."
DOUG PUT YOU IN THE SAME BREATH AS DAVEY ALLISON. DOES THAT MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE AT ALL?
"As a kid growing up, I was a Davey Allison fan too. But I think Doug might be hitting on my enthusiasm and determination that I have. He's probably not talking about my driving skills yet because we haven't really been in racing conditions together, but, hopefully, he's hitting on my attitude and my personality because that's what I enjoyed most about Davey Allison. He has not told me that before. That's the first time I heard that out of his mouth, but that just makes me feel more like I'm part of the family. The one word I've heard more the last month-and-a-half or two months than I've heard my whole racing career and that's family. I've heard it a bunch out of Robert's and Doug's mouth and out of the M&M's folks and that just makes me that much better prepared and more proud to be here than anything before. But anytime you're compared to a legend it's going to make you feel good, one, but, two, yeah it's going to put some pressure on you. But, hey, I live on pressure. I feel like I put more on myself than anybody else does anyway, so maybe that's what makes me get up every morning and try to do the best that I can and be the best person I can and try to represent this team and that great sponsor the best way I can. I just have to take it. Hopefully I can live up to the other end of the bargain of maybe being like Davey and we'll just go from there."
ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE BOLOGNA BURGERS FOR THIS TEAM? "I'm not going to force bologna burgers on anybody. If those guys want 'em, I'll cook 'em, but I'll probably have to give them some aspirin or something when they go to bed after eating some of that. But right now our diet is M&M's and chocolate, so we're going to go with that for a while."
DOUG YATES, General Manager - Robert Yates Racing: "There are a lot of comparisons between Dale Jarrett and Elliott. If he can follow in his footsteps, Elliott is going to be among the greatest. My Uncle Richard and I were talking about Elliott last week and we referenced Davey Allison. We see a lot of the same qualities in Elliott that we saw in Davey and we all know how close he was to our heart, so we're trying to get back to those winning ways with both of these teams and I think we've got the ingredients right here."
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO GET BRAD BACK IN YOUR SHOP?
"I would watch Brad win races on Saturday and even though all of the Busch guys would go home, Brad would be there on Sunday taking notes, watching the corners and studying the races. That really impressed me quite a bit. I think that's ultimately what led to the idea of bringing Brad back. He wants this. This is what he does. I think he was a key part to the Roush success last year, for sure. You always want to pollinate your team with winning programs. There aren't enough hours in a day to come up with everything on your own, there aren't enough dollars to do that, so, sometimes, you go out over the winter and pollinate your program with people off successful programs and that for sure factored in to bringing Brad back."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS NEW TEAM STRUCTURE?
"I think with the structure of myself as general manager, working to make both teams work together, and Todd Parrott as director of competition - and the two guys that we have as crew chiefs - the chemistry is right there. Just like the driver-crew chief chemistry, this is the same thing. It takes good chemistry to make it work."
DO YOU SEE YOUR STAFF CHANGING? "Yes, we've added two engineers this winter, one Ph.D. in aerodynamics and we're continually striving to bring more on board and make this program go further. That's the direction that the sport is heading."
YOU'RE PRETTY INTENSE WHILE ROBERT IS LAID BACK. WHAT CAN WE SEE AT THE TRACK NOW?
"Ten years ago I was real intense. Five years ago I was a little less intense. I'm trying to find my balance of what works. I think you have to have some of it, but maybe I can step that back up for our organization a little bit. Robert has all of the experience, but it's time for him to relax a little bit."
WHAT LED YOU TO PUT SO MUCH FAITH IN ELLIOTT?
"It's just what we saw in Elliott. He has the dedication and commitment to do this. He shined at some places before that people may or may not have noticed, but I think he's one of the up and coming young guns that we can take and mold to our organization, especially with Dale Jarrett bringing him along. I think that's what's going to make this work."
HE'S HAD SOME UPS AND DOWNS SINCE COMING TO CUP.
"I think the biggest thing for us was his relationship with Dale. Dale was instrumental in this whole decision process. Dale said, 'This guy can get it done if you give him the right time and the right equipment,' so putting those two together and bringing these teams together is a good formula for us."
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT HOW MUCH PRESSURE HE PUTS ON HIMSELF?
"I think that's a big part of my job is to try to help him feel comfortable with the situation. I sat down and talked to him at Daytona and said, 'Elliott, we're not expecting you to win every race. We expect you to run in the top 10 every week and if we don't run in the top 10, we need to sit down and think about things and figure out how to get them better.' So I think it's up to us to bring him along the right way."
HE TALKED ABOUT A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR. ARE THOSE EXPECTATIONS TO HIGH?
"Of course everybody's goal is to win the championship, but we have to be realistic. We've got to build this thing just like we did with the 88 team, which was a three or four-year building process. You have to run in the top 10 before you can run in the top five and so on, so I think we just take it one week at a time and go from there."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE IN THIS NEW ROLE?
"My role here is just that - to bring these two teams together and give them the things that they need. I want to put the programs in place and be there as a support and watch it grow. I think we've got a lot of those things set in motion, but it is a challenge to me to understand what a general manager does. Obviously, we haven't had one and I don't know many in racing, so I've studied a lot of other racing series. I've studied Formula One and how they approach their business and I'm trying to bring some of those things into our organization within the budget we can work with."
HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS STRUCTURE? "When it was all set in motion was when Fatback (Michael McSwain) decided to leave and take another job. We were interviewing people to take this crew chief role, but we said, 'You know what, we have the ingredients right here. Somebody just has to take charge of the situation and put it all in place.' I was running the dyno one day and I said, 'You know what, we've interviewed some crew chiefs and things weren't looking too well, so I'm going to take this and, together, we're going to fix it and get it right.' That's the way we've always done it with Robert, Todd and myself. We wanted to make it happen like we've always done and we decided to put this structure in place."
ROBERT YATES, Owner - Robert Yates Racing: "I didn't read that story about Roush and the Ford deal, but I want to let you all know, I haven't really talked to the Ford guys about this, but we've signed a five-year deal with Ford Motor Company and we're excited about that. We've also re-signed with Ford Credit and it's nice that we still have them as a great sponsor. So I wanted to plug our team. We're going to keep Jack Roush very honest. We're going to make our boys run really well. We're excited about having all these sponsors and the good thing for me is the fact that we have this youth in place. Here they come. They're going to squeeze me out the top or the bottom and I'm trying to go out the top."
WHEN DID MOVING SHOP LOCATION START BEING TALKED ABOUT?
"We started thinking about it because it was raining at Homestead Friday evening. Devin Birmingham called me and said, 'My dad doesn't want to take your offer, but I will. I'll make it happen.' Doug talked to me and said he wanted to make it happen and he had a plan. I asked him what he was going to do and he said he wanted to put the teams back together. He said the 28 shop would be the chassis shop because we were wanting to move it. We were actually had been looking for a building and were talking about it that night, so as soon as I got that phone call we went to Todd's motorhome. We went there and he jumped in and then went to Raymond's motorhome and he jumped in, and then they asked if we could have until March to get it done and I told them we could. But to get out of Charlotte, they told me if I left my billfold there on the first of the year, it wouldn't be mine any longer. I didn't tell them that up front, but we pulled off a very quick move. I'm two years ahead because we didn't have to start another construction zone that we had planned. We were just acquiring some property to build it on the same campus on Rolling Hill, but this place just worked out perfect. I don't want to paint myself in a corner, but we've got a better organization now than ever before because I gave Doug the money. I'm always trying to run everything with 10 people and he's got 160 people. He's well organized and we're in gear, so watch out competition, here we come."
WILL YOU BUILD ANYMORE?
"This is it for me. I'm getting rid of my construction hat and the whole deal. I'm done constructing. If we do it anymore, it will be something these young guys will do."
DOUG MENTIONED SEEING SOME OF DAVEY ALLISON IN ELLIOTT. DO YOU?
"I actually have this whole deal about packaging Davey and the 28 car up and not discussing it in any text, but, you know, it's hard not to see that in him. He's fun to be around. He's involved and he's a hoot. Davey was always that way. He didn't come in with a sourpuss attitude and that's the way he's been. Davey was a great competitor, but he was always fun to get rejuvenated by Monday morning at 10 o'clock and I see that in Elliott. He's easy to talk to. He's in it, he's with you, and he doesn't look down his nose at you or disrespect you. He respects all the people here and that's exactly the way the Allisons were, so I feel good about that. Respecting people - he doesn't think he's any better than anybody else, but he knows that if everybody works together, he'll look like he's better than everybody else."
WAS IT HARD NOT TO USE THE 28 THIS YEAR? "My first reaction was, 'There's no way under the sun.' I was allowing everybody to have their wishes, but I wasn't going to let them have the 28. I've got 15 years tied up in that, so, no way, I wouldn't even consider it. I laid awake at night and talked to Carolyn about it and she sometimes takes her race hat off and just wants me to be Robert, but she said, 'It's not a bad idea just to get a good, fresh start and start over.' So I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' They then came back to me later and said, 'Why don't you just keep it (the 28),' and I was like, 'No way, we're going to make this new package work. We've got a great number on it and I wouldn't go back to that. All of my memories of the 28 and whatever we've done in the past are great memories and I can't do anymore damage. I told Bobby Allison, 'I can't do anymore damage to the 28.' We can have all the good memories of that 28 car, but, yet, we're starting a new package with the 38."