Elliot Sadler. (Photo: Muriel Broussseau)
By: Farrah Kaye
Staff Writer, NNSracing.com
Elliot Sadler, driver of the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet, headed north to Montreal, Canada on Tuesday for Montreal Media Day, where he participated in a press conference held before the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
With 86 days to go before the race, the conference was moderated by Francois Dumontier, President of Octane Management and promoter of the race. During the conference, Sadler was also presented with a cake for his 36th birthday, which is coming up on April 30th.
"[This is my] first time in Montreal," Sadler said of visiting the city hosting the road course race. "I'm really looking forward to the race."
Dumontier asked Sadler to talk about his feelings about the race itself.
"I'm very anxious because, to me, this is a wildcard race because of the new points system - how tight everything is," Sadler commented, referring to the new NASCAR point system, where there are currently two drivers tied for first. "When you bring us to a road course so many different things can happen. [There are] so many cars on the lead lap [and it's] a very aero race track. It's a very long race.
"This is one of those races we have circled ... to make it to the end."
But Sadler may have one up on other drivers: his teammate.
Max Papis, who will be joining Sadler at the road course, finished second in last year's race.
Sadler also is looking forward to racing with the "experts" - as he calls them - like Patrick Carpentier, Jacques Villeneuve and Papis.
"I learn from them, follow them," he says of the drivers that are known as "road course racers."
Sadler was asked about his time in Montreal, a city he had never been to before.
"I've heard 'Montreal is fun, you can go out, the fans are nice and it's a great place to go to,'" he said of what his fellow drivers told him. "We like road course racing because it's different. We live off of racing on different tracks each week. To me it's fun throwing a road course in because it's different. Two or three times a year - it's good times. I've heard there are fans here during practice. We don't get that [usually]."
And what about the possibility of running the race in the rain, which has happened in the past?
"We just want to know if NASCAR is going to call (the race) and if it's fair," Sadler said. "But I've only done it one time."
Another challenge that might face the drivers is the new car, which has not been run at the track yet.
"The curbings are very tall [here]. With the [new] front ends, it will mess our splitters up," Sadler said of the possible damage that may come to the cars. "It's going to change the way some drivers drive the racetrack."
Being a Nationwide-only driver, one of the big topics was the new points system.
"The point system is a lot harder for (the drivers)," Sadler said. "The more simple you can make for the fans, the better. But this one point deal has brought more contenders to play. A lot more people are going to be contending for the championship at the end."
He continued on, discussing the double-duty drivers and whether or not they have an advantage.
"It's an advantage to run in both cars every week," Sadler said. "You deal with the heaviness of the Cup car and get track time. I didn't realize it until I was on this side of the fence. Everyone talks about the points system [but forgets the other factors]."
One media member jokingly asked about Sadler's TV work, asking him if he plans on being "the next DW (Darrel Waltrip)."
"I do not want to be the next DW. Please do not call me the next DW," Sadler said. "When I do TV, it's about understanding the sport from a whole different angle. It helps my sponsors, them getting to see me on TV, and I have a good relationship with the Speed channel."
Driving for his one-time competitor, Sadler was asked to talk about what it's like working for Harvick.
"[Harvick] is tough. What you see is what you get. I love driving for somebody that has that much passion for racing," Sadler said of his blunt yet passionate boss. "You never have to question where your boss stands. He's gonna give me everything I need to be competitive.
"This is the most fun I've had racing in a long time. It's about the team."
The NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.