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Elliott Sadler's goal: 'Win the damn race'

October 25, 2013, Kenny Bruce,

Veteran excited for another crack at Cup competition

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Elliott Sadler will shed the "former" tag for the next four weeks.

Sadler, 38, will make his first start for Michael Waltrip Racing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, stepping in to finish the season for Brian Vickers in the team's No. 55 Toyota.

Vickers was forced to end his season earlier this month in order to begin treatments for a blood clot in his right leg.

Sadler, a three-time winner in NASCAR's premier level, says the game plan for the final four races is simple.

"We're here to win the damn race," he said Friday during media availability at Martinsville. "Whether it's this weekend, next weekend, Phoenix or Homestead, it can happen. That's the attitude we have.

"We're going to look at it as we have nothing to lose. We're not trying to battle for any points or anything like that so we can try different stuff, different pit strategy. To sit here and tell you that I just want to … be competitive and not do much is a lie. I want to come out here and qualify good each week, run good each week and put ourselves in position to be there at the end of the race.

"I'm a competitor, no matter what I play, no matter what I race, I want to be involved and be competitive."

Sadler competes full time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he is fifth in points with three races remaining. He trails points leader Austin Dillon by 78 points.

He has one top-five and three top-10 finishes in 24 career starts at Martinsville in Cup competition. It's been three years since he last competed on the tight 0.526-mile track.

"It's kind of a tough track … it involves a lot of rhythm, you've got to hit your marks and you can't overdrive the corners," Sadler said. "You've really got to find that groove and keep it going. …

"I think it's going to take a couple of laps to get the rhythm back down in a Cup car. I haven't been in a Cup car on a short track in a long time."

Sadler said he "leaned on" MWR driver Clint Bowyer and JGR's Denny Hamlin to get an idea of what to expect given his short-track absence in a Cup entry.

"Just about things to look for," he said. "How the car needs to be maybe on Saturday to be good on Sunday, because this is a different … tire than I raced the last time I was here. Yes, I want it to be a good track for me, but I do understand … I've got to find my rhythm early here."


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