Elliott Sadler: I don't care about the money



You may have already read this on nascar.com, but for those of you who have not.

Way to go, Elliott! A really classy move...


As told to Marty Smith, Turner Sports Interactive August 7, 2002

About two weeks after I announced that I wanted my release, I sat down with my Dad and tried to think of some way to give back to Eddie and Len Wood for everything they've done for me.

They gave me my start in Winston Cup racing. I also wanted to concentrate 100 percent on the racing.

Well, we decided that the best thing to do would be to give them all my winnings, even the year-end money from Winston. You know what? That's going to total a lot of money, so that made me feel like it was the right thing to do.

I brought it up, said hey, this might help both sides. This might speed up the release process. Because I know that the door of opportunity was open, but it would close really, really fast, by a certain date and this might help speed up my release process.

At first, my Dad looked at me like I was crazy, said 'Wow, son, do you know how much money that is?' I figured it out and said, 'Yep, no problem.' We're just gong to have to take a little hit this year to be able to race hard in the future.

I wanted to show them that I'm still committed to this team, and by giving them that much more money, it'll help them attract a great driver to their program. There are many reasons why I made this decision, but the main reason was to give back to the guys that have been so good to me.

I think that showed Eddie that I wasn't giving up on his team. When I asked for my release we were 25th in points and we were up to 18th before we had problems at Indy. I'm still competitive on the radio, telling them what to change and what needs to be done to the car. They know I still want to run up front.

That shows them I'm in this for the race, not the money. When I told Eddie I wanted to give them my winnings, he was like, 'Man, thanks.' I think he appreciated the gesture on my part, a lot, because he came through the next week with my release. We got it all done.

He's been getting my winnings ever since Charlotte, and I don't regret it one ounce. Although, this is kind of funny, some of the guys on my crew tease me that they make more money than I do on Sundays, but we just kind of laugh it off.

Man, I just want to race, and have the opportunity to really succeed. That's all I've wanted from very beginning. Money doesn't matter one way or another. It actually makes me feel really good, trying to pay these guys back that have been so good to me. Without them, I may never have gotten into Winston Cup.

I don't know if anyone's done something like that before. I've never really checked into it. I don't care, really. My Dad and I felt that Eddie and Len have done so much for us, worked their butts off, that this was the best way I could pay these guys back.

I don't care if other drivers have done it or not. I just want to win races. I want to be in a situation where I win every week. I'm still a pretty young driver and have a lot to learn. I'm really excited about the opportunity to bounce ideas off another driver.

Everybody knows what I'm doing next year. The media, the fans and all have nailed it. They know what's going to happen. We're still trying to finalize some small details, but it's not my place to come out and say what it's all about.

It's up to the sponsor. They put so much money into this sport and want to promote their product the best possible way to get the most exposure out of it.

I'm so excited about my future. It's something I never thought would happen, to be in a situation like this. Everybody knows how I feel about Robert Yates Racing, and their motors and what they've got going on over there. Everybody knows I've wanted to drive for Robert my whole life.

Everybody knows how much I look up to Dale Jarrett and what he's done for me and for me and our sport. Hopefully we can get all this finalized to make it 100 percent done and go from there.

People ask why I'm giving this money back. You know, how can I look a fan straight in the eye that works 60 hours a week, that spends their savings for that year to come to race, who takes their yearly vacation time to come support us, and complain or bicker of how much money I'm going to make?

That's not fair to the fans. It makes me feel good each week that I'm there for the race, not the money. I want those fans to know that I'm there for the race, that my heart's in it. I don't care about the money.


You won't see something like that happen often,The last person I saw do that was Mark McGuire with the Cardinals,He turned down big dollars to leave the Cardinals,He said a man only needs so much,And he loved where he was playing.Thanks But No thanks.
Good story.:)


That's pretty impressive, I applaud Elliott Sadler with what he's doing.

And if this Yates deal ends up not working out down the road, I'm sure the Woods would consider re-hiring him if he wanted to come back.

I think He's making a smart career choice moving to the #28, if that's the number the car ends up, but that #21 team is awfully stout and will be a prize ride for whatever driver gets it.


I don't know...it's sounding more and more like the #28 will be leaving RYR altogether.
Has there been any speculation about who will replace Sadler in the #21?


Great Story, I hope that Elliott can be succesful in the 28.


A quick check reveals that Elliott has given up $698,661 in earnings so far. The total is gonna be at least twice that by years end, more likely three times that amount. That is his total purse winnings, Elliot's share of that is unknown.

Speculation on the Woods Bros next driver is leaning very heavily towards Ken Schrader lately. If that is the case, don't expect to hear much about because neither Ken nor Eddie and Len Wood are prone to discuss their negotiations.

Why does this indicate the 28 is leaving Yates? While it might happen I don't see that Sadler coming to Yates would precipitate the 28 not being the ride.


Now there's a great story about a man who wants to race!!!!!!


HS: Thanks for the info about Shrader. That should be a good pairing.

However, I didn't derive that from Elliott's move to Yates, but from the following article:


Although Yates has one year left on his contract with Texaco-Havoline, Rudd says the owner doesn't want it, that Sadler is coming aboard with M&M's as the sponsor.

That's led to speculation that if Rudd drives somewhere else next year - he's supposedly close to a deal to drive a third car for Chip Ganassi Racing - he'll take the sponsor and number with him.


Again, who knows what's really true until all the pieces fall into place, but if it's coming from Rudd's own mouth, I tend to believe it.


The number may go with Havoline, but that would be a separate deal from the sponsor going elsewhere. Rumors (capital letters) are that the number is a major sticking point in getting the deal done with Ganassi.

I'm not sure which of the parties involved here wants the number, but I'm guessing Texaco-Havoline. Although Ganassi or Rudd either one might want the readily identifiable number to highlight a new team.

Personally I would prefer Yates to hang on to the number. But it would not be overly upsetting if it moved. While many fans most identify the number with the Texaco-Havoline sponsorship and many with the years when Davey was the pilot, I have other favorites who have driven the number under entirely different schemes and sponsors. Notably Fred Lorenzen and Cale Yarborough. Davey was perhaps my most favored, but whereever the number goes it will not do anything to change the memory of the car.

I digress, sorry.

Technically the number belongs to NASCAR, I have no clue where it will end up, but wherever it goes it will not the #28 team as we now know it unless Mr. Yates keeps it.


I find it interesting that Elliott talks about how good the Woods were to him and how much they have done for him while pointing out how much he is giving up to get away from them.


HS, glad you brought up the fact that the number belongs to Nascar....

On another note, there is an interesting piece in this week's Winston Cup Scene (yeah, I love Wednesdays when it comes in the mail) that says that Ford was instrumental in moving Sadler out of the 21 and into a better ride. You need a subscription to view it online, but I'll quote the paper:

Nascar Winston Cup Scene
Vol XXVI, No 15, August 8, 2002
Deb Williams

...."Ten years ago Ford lost a 20-year-old driver named Jeff Gordon to Chevrolet. Ford had scouted him, brought him to Nascar, and was grooming him in the Busch series whith Bill Davis Racing with the intention of moving him to Winston Cup with Davis.

But multicar team owner Rick Hendrick had been watching him as well and Gordon's roommate at the time worked for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick scheduled a meeting with Gordon and by that time crew chief Ray Evernham was already working for Hendrick, assembling a championship team and preparing for Gordon's rookie season.

Ten years later, Ford didn't want to lose another young, promising driver, such as Sadler, to its rival and, therefore, the Virginia native was able to use that to his advantage. By the race at Charlotte in late May, Ford officials reportedly had become involved in Sadler's effort to obtain his release from the Wood Brothers. The morning of that race, Glen and Leonard Wood talked with Edsel Ford in the Winston Cup garage and it didn't appear to be a pleasant conversation...."

Just thought it was an interesting piece of the story that hasn't been dwelt on. Perhaps HS could shed some light to the story?


Virtually everyone who has driven for the Woods Bros. echoes those same sentiments. Even back in the Glenn and Leonard days. Gotta believe they are a fine bunch to work with.

But Robert Yates has legendary status with his powerplants. Couple that with the fact, much to my dismay, that the #21 car just can't seem to consistently prove itself to be a prime competitor.

The visit to Victory Circle at Bristol I hoped would the start of great improvements. There have been some flashes of a return but not yet.



Thanks for the article.

Don't know anything about that deal. It brings up a couple of points to sort out here though.

First, if Ford got involved in influencing the Woods to release Sadler there must have been a very good reason. By doing that they would almost in effect be crossing swords with Jack Roush. Jack and the Woods have working relationship and though I am not sure of all the details Roush Racing supplies the engines to the Woods at a good buddy price. In return the teams share some testing info and R&D work. If Jack has monetary investments with the team, it is very hush hush.

Second, Ford was involved in getting Sadler to the Woods Bros team from the get go. DJ played a role in the whole Motorcraft Ford sponsorship deal going to the team when they would not pony the bucks to keep the 88 sponsorship and UPS came on board. So did Ford and perhaps DJ as well have some influence in wanting Sadler with Yates. the loyalty would seem split. Why move a promising driver out of a team that you more or less sponsor.

Around all this is an assumtion that Sadler's original intent was ot go with Yates. Maybe some other team with GM or Dodge was lurking around and Ford did not want another Gordon deal. This may the best explanation. If memory serves the whole deal with Gordon was one of timing. Bill Davis supposedly did not get the contract on the table soon enough and Jeff jumped at Hendrick offer. Bill Davis was very bitter about the deal and some harsh words floated around for a year or two.

thought provoking.


I didn't really have much opinion one way or the other on Sadler, but I can't help but pull for a guy who would do that.


IMO, Sadler's a peach. A great guy, very humble and (as I keep preaching) as talented as anyone out there. I am thrilled with a capital thrill to see him get the Yates ride. He should be a perfect fit after he and the team get their communication down and the usual wrinkles ironed out. As a lifelong Ford fan who went with Ward out of frustration, I may have to invest in a few shirts etc when they get them released.

TN-SadlerFan....nice ring to it.
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