Sadler Looks For Turnaround

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Elliott Sadler has gotten off to a rough start in the early going of the 2003 Winston Cup Series season but a strong third place qualifying run Friday at Atlanta has the first year Robert Yates Racing driver excited about this weekend's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500.

Sadler was third fast in practice clocking a speed of 191.370 mph early Friday morning. The track seemed to slow up considerably as the sun peeked through the clouds but Sadler and Co. were confident their car would contend for the Bud Pole.

Sadler drew 20th in the qualifying order and when his turn on the track was complete he ran a lap time of 29.044 or 190.88 mph. Ryan Newman will lead the field to the green flag followed by Bill Elliott on Sunday but Sadler expects their lead to be short lived.

“That was pretty cool,” said Sadler in a post-qualifying press conference. “We came down here and tested before we went to Las Vegas and it was very successful. I really like racing here at Atlanta. I am really happy to get some momentum back in our step after a disappointing run last week at Vegas. We never expected to qualify that well here, but in race trim we are going to be good. I hope its an uneventful race for us on Sunday and can get the job done.”

It's been an up and down start to the season for Sadler, who joined the Yates team in 2003. After a Top 10 finish in his Gatorade Twin 125 at Daytona, Sadler wound up 23rd in the Daytona 500 finishing order.

He bounced back with a ninth place run at Rockingham, only to have an engine failure doom him to a 42nd place finish last weekend in Las Vegas. That run became even more painful when teammate Dale Jarrett was swept up in an early race wreck.

“I can’t believe it. We don’t know exactly what happened. It was something in the drive train I think," Sadler said. "Mechanical failures are not a common thing for Robert Yates Racing and I just hope we can figure out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I feel bad for this whole team. We worked real hard to get this car back to where we were competitive and we went from a 30th place car to a top-10 car. I also hate it for DJ and those boys being involved in a wreck. It just wasn’t a good day.”

But the beauty of Winston Cup racing is that there's always another race the next week. Sadler hopes seven days will make a vary big difference.

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