Richard Childress Racing
July 4, 2012
Sadler, crew chief Luke Lambert mesh on, off the track
"It's fun showing up to the racetrack and having a bunch of guys around you that believe in you."
Source: Daytona Beach News Journal
Author: Buddy Shacklette
Elliott Sadler and his crew chief, Luke Lambert, may pull for rival basketball teams, but it didn't take long for the two to bond.
A couple of hours at a North Carolina-North Carolina State game did the trick.
"Me and Elliott kind of started the whole thing off right," said Lambert, who watched his Wolfpack lose to Sadler's Tar Heels in December. "We went to a basketball game together and got to know each other.
"Our personalities mesh together outside of the track. We both had the same expectations. We felt like we would be a contender to win some races."
Heading into Friday's Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the duo are certainly on track. Sadler and Lambert have visited Victory Lane twice (Phoenix and Bristol) for Richard Childress Racing and sit second in the points.
Running up front has been a welcome change for Sadler, a longtime Cup veteran.
"It's fun showing up to the racetrack and having a bunch of guys around you that believe in you," he said. "(And it's fun) having a bunch of guys that want to win and want to be there and be part of a good race team."
Before moving to the Nationwide Series last season, Sadler drove the No. 19 Dodge for four years and for three owners -- Ray Evernham, Gillett Evernham and Richard Petty -- from 2007-10.
Sadler finished in the top 10 just 16 times in 144 starts and never finished higher than 24th in the final Cup points standings.
"I want to be on a team that's competitive, period, whether you run in Nationwide or run in Cup," Sadler said. "I've been on a very competitive Cup team. We had a chance to win races, were part of the Chase. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of it. I've been on part of Cup teams that I was running show cars, used parts, used motors, that was no fun at all. Now, I'm with a Nationwide car that we feel we can win a race every time we show up."
Sadler won races and made the Chase with Robert Yates, but as the company began to downsize so did Sadler's career. He hasn't won a Cup race in eight years, but sometimes a step back is really a step forward.
He swallowed his pride last season and jumped into the No. 2 Nationwide ride of Kevin Harvick Inc., where he led races, won five poles and finished runner-up in the Nationwide standings.
Kevin Harvick Inc. downsized and Sadler's ride went to RCR, where he's won two poles and finished outside of the top 15 just once.
"Me and Elliott and the rest of our team really jelled from the get-go," Lambert said. "Elliott has got a great personality, and we felt like with Elliott we could have a lot of success."
At 37, married and a young father, Sadler is at a different place in his career.
Winning and competing matters more than bigger paychecks, and there's no urgency on his part to jump into just any Cup ride.
"It's the first time in five years I'm with a team that I know is going to be here at the end of this year and next year," Sadler said. "If a call comes one day and I'm able to get back in a competitive Cup car and go run, I would love to do that. I'm not going to go to Cup just to say I'm a Cup driver to ride around 25th and 30th and not be a contender. I'm having way too much fun being competitive."
To see the article as it appears on the Daytona Beach News Journal, please click here.