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2006 Driver Review: Elliott Sadler

Elliott “The Dodgeman doesn’t have the same ring as The Candyman” Sadler
2006 Ride: No. 38 M&M’s Ford (Feb.-Aug.)/No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge (Aug.-Nov.)
2006 Owner: Robert Yates (Feb.-Aug.)/Ray Evernham (Aug.-Nov.)
2006 Crew Chief: Tommy Baldwin Jr. (Feb.-Aug.)/Josh Browne (Aug.-Nov.)
Stats: 36 races, zero wins, one top five, seven top 10s, 22nd in points.

High Point: At Daytona in February, Sadler and the No. 38 team unloaded fast, always near the top of the practice session speed charts in their Robert Yates Racing Ford. The momentum carried over to the first Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race, as Sadler beat the weather and 28 other competitors to win the event in a green-white-checkered finish. Earning the third starting spot for the prestigious Daytona 500 with the win, Sadler went on to lead five laps in the race before crossing the finish line in fourth spot. Amazingly, what began as a strong top-five weekend to start out the year would turn out to be Sadler’s best finish of the season.

Low Point: The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is one of the biggest, most prestigious races on the NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule, but Sadler couldn’t wait to get out of town that weekend. Enduring a day that was short and not sweet, Elliott crashed just three laps into the race, finishing 43rd in what would be his second to last race driving the No. 38 car.

Summary: Sadler’s decision to leave RYR to drive the No. 19 car of Evernham Motorsports left many longtime fans questioning his decision. Two blown motors and mid-pack results from August onward left some feeling he might be second in line at best for the organization, simply there to drive R&D equipment for teammate Kasey Kahne. Statistically, it is hard to decide. In his 14 races with Evernham, Sadler finished in the top 10 twice and led 61 laps… but he also failed to finish four events. In comparison, during his 22 races with Yates Sadler finished in the top 10 five times, led 40 laps, and failed to finish just three events.

2007 Outlook: With the turmoil of contract negotiations with Yates behind him, Sadler should show great improvement in 2007 in his first full season driving an Evernham Dodge. Several front row starts are a given with this team, but I wouldn’t rule out a few wins, too, if the cards fall Elliott’s way.

Grade: B-

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