News & Media


In the Draft: Heading home always means a busier weekend

September 06, 2011, Elliott Sadler, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Eyeing Richmond, Sadler breaks down standard weekend and demands therein

We are down to the final stretch of races in the Nationwide Series season. Heading into the event at Richmond International Raceway this weekend, we have eight races to go...wow! It's my home track, so I try to see as many people as possible while I'm in town! Want to come see me? Come on out to the OneMain Financial Branch in Chester, Va., from 3-4 p.m. Thursday!

A common question I am asked is: What do you do to relax during race weekend? There are a lot of things crammed into a race weekend: sponsor appearances, autograph sessions, team meetings, media interviews and not to mention all of the on-track activities. With a whirlwind of things going on throughout the weekend, I take my down time very seriously. The Nationwide schedule is usually compacted into one or two days of on-track activity, which has its pros and cons. We are able to be at home for a longer period of time, but it also makes for long days, sometimes as long as 15-16 hours.

"It's always important for me to do well, but there's always added pressure when your family is in the stands. I have family members that to this day still have reserved seats by the start/finish line there. "

--ELLIOTT SADLER

When we get to the track, we start with practice where the team will get to work on the No. 2 Chevrolet. After each run, I talk through what the car felt like going around the track and changes that need to be made with my crew chief Ernie Cope and the crew. We will continue to work on it until the practice is over, where sometimes the team will switch the car into "qualifying trim," which is the setup we use for the qualifying session. After practice, I spend more time with Ernie to discuss the best approach going into qualifying and the race.

I try to have my schedule set up so that I can have my time with the media and time with sponsors in back-to-back blocks of time. Both the media and sponsors are important parts of this industry and our team, so I try to have as much quality time with them as possible. I try to have a standard lunch each week and spend time at the motorhome in between practice and qualifying to decompress and think about the upcoming qualifying and race. I'll change out of the fire suit, relax a bit and play with my son Wyatt if he comes to that race.

I then head to qualifying, if it is on the same day as practice, and hopefully if we land at the top of the board, have to go to the Pole Award Board, where we take photos with sponsors and the lucky Coors Light hat. I've been fortunate enough to win three poles this year.

Typically after qualifying, we have the driver/crew chief meeting, which I'll go to with Ernie. There we listen to special instructions and rules about the track. It is also an opportunity where we can ask NASCAR any questions we may have regarding the track or scoring or rules to gain a better understanding before we hop in the car.

I head back to the motorhome to eat my race-day dinner of choice: brown rice and chicken. I always try to have this dinner because it is healthy, balanced and keeps things consistent for me. This is my important time to focus, relax and seriously reflect on the race that is about to take place. My schedule is different every weekend, but I do try to take my down time seriously.

We had a pretty good weekend in the No. 2 Chevrolet at Bristol. We finished eighth, which is not what we were looking for, but it was a great points weekend. If you have never been to Bristol Motor Speedway, I am going to tell you to go ahead and purchase your tickets for next year's races. The race under the lights at Thunder Valley is one of the best experiences we have all year, turning drivers into race fans all over again. Standing in the infield, your body will literally shake from vibrations of 43 cars going around the track.

Last race we were at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where we had a tough weekend. We couldn't get the No. 2 where we wanted it throughout the race, but the guys stuck with it and we were able to battle for a 10th-place finish. Not where we wanted to finish, but it was good considering the circumstances.

This week we head to what I consider my home track: Richmond. Like Bristol, Richmond is a track that I grew up going to with my family, so it's a special experience to go back and race there competitively. It's always important for me to do well, but there's always added pressure when your family is in the stands. I have family members that to this day still have reserved seats by the start/finish line there.

I do sometimes have the opportunity to have fun in my down time. In Richmond I will have the opportunity to introduce Dierks Bentley in a concert at the track. I love country music, so I think it should be a lot of fun!

I'm looking forward to this weekend and to the remaining eight races. Where did this season go? The No. 2 team will continue to keep performing and pushing to that ultimate goal: Nationwide Series champions!

Until next time...Holla!

In the Draft with Elliott Sadler is a twice-monthly blog and the opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. Follow him and the No. 2 KHI team on Twitter: @Elliott_Sadler, @OneMainRacing or @KHI_NNS.