News & Media

In the Draft: Summertime crunch starts with exciting Daytona

June 28, 2011, Elliott Sadler, Special to NASCAR.COM,

It's hard to believe that it is almost Daytona week again! The season is going so quickly, but the summertime is definitely crunch time for our team as we continue to look ahead in the season.

Two weeks ago, we hit Michigan International Speedway, where the weather was beautiful and much less humid than it is here in Emporia. Our team worked really hard all race, even after falling a lap down when a caution fell after we had just went down pit road for a green-flag pit stop. Fortunately, we had a really fast No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, and we were able to battle back to a top-10 finish and keep on moving to the next race.

I feel like we've improved a lot over the last few races at the downforce tracks so this summer should be a lot of fun!

From there, we went into a wild weekend at Road America. It was my first time at the Wisconsin road course! Since I hadn't been there before, and road courses are pretty difficult, I took time to talk with my KHI teammate Max Papis. He had competed there in several other series, and provided some insight into the best way to compete on the track.

In my preparations, I also tried to find a video game or simulation of the track to help visualize the 14-turns along the four-mile course, but couldn't find one of Road America. So, I went to plan B, which was to watch video from last season's race. And I watched it again, and again, and again. I joked that I studied more for this race than I did for any of my high school or college exams.

I think all the preparation paid off. The race was only 50 laps, so during the two practices on Friday, we clocked 30 laps, so we could get the car where it needed to be and to give me ample time to memorize the course. I was able to get a really good feel for the track and felt good about the setup going into the race.

We competed up front for most of the race, and my crew chief, Ernie Cope, called a great race. Coming down to the last laps, we were pretty tight on fuel. Things got crazy coming down to the final laps, and we had not one, not two, but three green-white-checkered attempts. I had been saving all the fuel I could throughout the entire race, but I knew that we would be close. I was able to dodge a few accidents in front of me, and on the last green-white-checkered attempt, the yellow came out. After a lot of confusion on who won, I had enough fuel to cross the finish line in the fourth position...our eighth top-five of the season.

Next up, we're heading back to Daytona this weekend, and I couldn't be more excited. The last time we were there with the OneMain Financial Chevrolet, it wasn't exactly what we hoped for with early problems. We are bringing a good car this weekend -- the same one that we won the pole with at Talladega Superspeedway back in April. With the new surface, I know that drafting is going to be a hot topic. I'll have three teammates this weekend with Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer. I'm excited to work with them and know we'll be running up front.

It's an exciting weekend not only for me, but also for OneMain Financial. The OneMain Financial logo has been on my car all season, but this week will finally be the time when all branches officially become OneMain Financial. Kevin Harvick will also be driving a OneMain Financial Chevrolet. He'll be in the No. 4 KHI machine with a pretty slick paint scheme.

If you are around the Daytona area, come check me out at the OneMain Financial Branch between 11 a.m.-noon ET Thursday at 828-8 Saxon Blvd in Orange City!

Until next time, HOLLA!