Elliot Sadler Takes the Pole for the NASCAR BGN Advance Auto Parts 250
12 July 1997MYRTLE BEACH, SC - "I was not pleased at all with my lap." Believe it or not, that was the first statement made by the young man who had just broken a five-year old track record at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Elliott Sadler ripped off a lap at 99.196 mph around the 0.538-mile track to win the pole for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Advance Auto Parts 250. The lap took 19.525 seconds to complete and beat the previous track record set by Jeff Gordon back in June 1992 of 19.644 seconds (98.595 mph).
"It was a little bit faster than what we ran in practice," said Sadler, "but I wanted to run a 0.40-something and I left a little bit on the table. I drove into turn three too hard and washed up. But the car was perfect. That's awesome beating Jeff Gordon's track record. I'm trying to follow in his footsteps as much as I can. He set a heck of a pace for everybody trying to come up in racing. I'm trying to do all I can do to kind of hang on to his shirttail a little bit."
Sadler, who recorded his 4th pole position of the season, may not have been 100% satisfied with his own personal effort but was definitely impressed with the performance of his #29 Phillips 66 Chevrolet. "The car was perfect. It was awesome. It was pretty good off the truck and we made a few adjustments. I didn't think we were going to qualify that good. The car is really racy. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. That's the same car we won with in Nazareth and finished second in Milwaukee last week. So it's got an awesome track record."
The Emporia, VA native was the second of 38 drivers to record a time. He then had to wait out a 40-minute rain delay which came as Joe Bessey, who was 13th in line, took to the track for his qualifying effort. Sadler felt that the weather conditions combined with the new pavement on the speedway were instrumental in his being able to hang on to the pole position.
"I think the rain helped me because it's a brand new track so it's going to have a lot of oil base in it," he explained. "When it rains it brings the oil to the surface and plus dragging tires around it keeps bringing stuff out of the track. I think it brought oil to the surface and the track was cool so it didn't have any grip in it. It rained just long enough to make the rubber loose on it. I think it made the track a whole lot slicker."
Apparently that was the case as only two drivers were able to crack the top ten after the delay. They were Tim Fedewa who will start sixth and Matt Kenseth who grabbed the ninth spot on the grid. Both drivers were among the final seven to complete their qualifying laps.
Starting alongside Sadler on the front row is Jeff Purvis in the #28 Opryland/Curb Records Chevrolet. Purvis also drew a low number in the qualifying order (5th) and posted a time of 19.591 seconds (98.862 mph). "We usually do run pretty good here," said Purvis, who finished second in last year's event. "We missed the pole by just a little bit. The rain seemed to affect the track quite a bit. I figured it would be better after the rain and instead I think it ended up being a little bit worse. You never know how these things will go."
Nathan Buttke was on a mission to prove a point after having the pole position taken away from him last weekend at The Milwaukee Mile after NASCAR officials discovered illegal boosters in his carburetor during post-qualifying inspection. He wasn't quite fast enough at 98.465 mph to secure the pole, but the #78 CarQuest Auto Parts Monte Carlo will start a solid third for Saturday's 250-lap event. "I'm proud of the way the crew has worked hard," Buttke said. "Last week we had some conflict. I didn't want to come out here and not run good. I'm really glad that we got a good qualifying (run) and showed them that we can do it week in and week out. The engine guys have done a lot of work to get this engine here. It's a little detuned. The car's been working fantastic. Now we've got to do some tweaking for the race and I think it will be awesome if it will stay under me."
The #85 Luck's Foods Chevrolet will start fourth on the grid and driver Shane Hall was pleased with the effort. "It feels good," he said. "These guys (crew) have been working hard. In the last four or five weeks we've made a lot of changes and it seems to have made a lot of difference. Our qualifying has picked up a good bit and our racing has also. These guys are making a big difference for me."
Rounding out the top five is defending series champion and current points leader Randy LaJoie. "Anytime I qualify with more guys behind me than there are in front of me, I consider it a good day," said the enthusiastic pilot of the #74 FINA Monte Carlo. "I left a little bit out there but we've got a really good race car. That's the main thing. I'm looking forward to this race."
The 134.5-mile race is schedule for an 8:00 pm (EDT) start tomorrow evening and will be televised live by TNN. Live Radio coverage will be proved by MRN.
Lori Vizza - The Auto Channel