Race Weekend Central

2006 NASCAR Driver Review: Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler

2006 Rides: No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford (Feb.-Aug.), No. 19 Evernham Motorsports Dodge (Aug.-Nov.)
2006 Primary Sponsors: M&M’s, Dodge Dealers/UAW
2006 Owners: Robert Yates (Feb.-Aug.), Ray Evernham (Aug.-Nov.)
2006 Crew Chiefs: Tommy Baldwin Jr. (Feb.-Aug.), Josh Browne (Aug.-Nov.)
2006 Stats: 36 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 7 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.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: B-

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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