Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Elliott Sadler Talks about the Turmoil!

Elliott Sadler finally came out of the woods of Virginia to answer the questions plaguing the world of NASCAR. (He may also be escaping from wedding plans!)

Elliott was interviewed on Sirius Speedway, by host Dave Moody. He discussed, at length, what transpired during late December and early January with his job at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. It was an interview filled with revelations.

First, Elliott was not given the information of his impending employment termination on Christmas Eve. He claims that he had discussions with the folks at GEM before that, and had indeed had been given permission to search for new opportunities long before Christmas. The GEM people were very upfront with him about this whole process.

It was discussed as a possibility during a year end meeting, and he and the GEM folks were trying to come up with ideas to get the 19 more competitive. Any type of ideas were being thrown out and there was conversation was that there was a chance there would be a driver change. Again, he was given permission to search for new opportunities. However, he was never told outright that another driver was being signed to replace him.

Elliott felt that sponsors were indeed pressuring GEM to get a car into the top ten. Sadler specifically said he still has a good relationship with Best Buy and Stanley. (McDonald’s was not mentioned.)

Second, AJ Allmendiger’s business manager was negotiating in good faith. Elliott even said that AJ was told that Elliott’s contract was being bought out and the seat was open. Elliott says that he and AJ will work well together, and he can’t be made at AJ for wanting to be competitive. He does not for see any problems at all, and thinks AJ will be an asset to the team.

Moody asked a tough question. Public perception was that Sadler was being replaced, he was angry, and he went to a lawyer. Elliott said that he realized that the situation was bigger than just his car, as he had to take care of his personal service contracts and sponsors. Elliott wanted to make sure that someone else was over-seeing his interests that were not directly related to racing.

Moody also relayed that fans were saying “Why would you want to stay with a team when they don’t appear to want you.” Elliott softballs this, saying that there was so much going on, that there is more to the story than just that statement. He seemed to think it is unfair to even ask the question, as there is so much more to the issue.

And finally, this has been a huge wake up call for Elliott, this is ‘the greatest motivation,’ as he says, to get him more in tune and more focused on what he needs to do to run well. Many have felt that Sadler has been ‘mailing it in’ for a long time, and that statement may well say that Sadler will have more motivation now.

As a former avid fan of Sadler, (and one who still wishes the best for him) I am glad that he seems to be optimistic. I am hoping that he has a wonderful wedding, and that he does indeed look forward to the future with greater motivation and drive to succeed.