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November 16, 2017

Elliott Sadler

Q. Ensconced yourself into an intrateam battle for the championship. How does that change things up as opposed to racing against a bunch of non‑ friendlies?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I think it's okay. Yes, it does feel a little different that I know who I'm racing against and what I'm racing against. My guys, they've all been sharing information this week, crew chiefs and all are still going the same protocol they've always done, but I think Justin and William and myself understand that it's one race for one championship. We're going to race each other hard.
We understand all the chips are on the table, and we all know what each other's got, which is a little bit different than racing people from other teams. I know William's setup, and I know Justin's, and we're all going to know what each other is fighting. So there's a lot more information on the table.
I think what it comes down to, you've got to race each other hard because this is‑‑ you don't get this opportunity all the time, and you've got to try to take advantage of it when you get it.

Q. What did you learn last year that you will take this year and do one or two spots better?
ELLIOTT SADLER: That's a good question. The biggest thing I learned from last year is a lot can happen in this race. Not only to happen in us in XFINITY race when we had a chance to win on the last restart, but you also saw the Cup races too. There's so many things that can happen in a championship race, so mentally you've got to stay in the game. You've got to stay with it. If you're on the lead lap, anything can happen to put yourself in a situation, especially with late race restarts and things like that.
But the biggest difference for me this year is I have my crew chief. Guys, I'm going to be honest with you, that was really hard last year, harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was just going to be fine and we're going to mosey right along, but when it gets in the heat of the moment and things get stressful and decisions have to be made, having my crew chief this year, I feel way more relaxed about it, way more optimistic about it because we've gone through these steps together all season long. It's nothing new to us.
It was a big right hook to me last year during the race, and I think that's something I can build off of and be better prepared for Saturday night.

Q. Is that one strike against Justin going in?
ELLIOTT SADLER: Justin and I talked about this on the way home on the plane the other night. He's got to step up and be a leader, which I know he will. He's got experience. I think it's different happening to someone like Justin than maybe like a rookie would be. I think they're going to be fine. Billy Wilburn is on the box.
There is going to be times during the race that communication is not going to be as strong as it probably would be with him and Jason. I found that out with Kevin and I, and I am so‑‑ hey, that was our number one goal at Phoenix. Let's make sure the lug nuts are tight, especially with the pit crew stuff we were going through. I don't care where we finish, just make sure my whole team can come with me to Homestead, and I think that's going to be a big difference for us this weekend.

Q. Hemric is find of facing the same thing with Randall Burnett.
ELLIOTT SADLER: Well, I kind of heard that was going to happen a couple weeks ago. They have run good together. Look, I've been very impressed with Daniel Hemric. He's run so good here the last couple weeks with a new crew chief, with a different team. I know they swapped some stuff around for him. He's raced his butt off to get in this championship four.
Yes, we're getting a lot of headlines because it's three of us against him, but it's one on one on one on one Saturday night, and those guys have raced really hard the last couple weeks and has run very good and very fast.
I think they're going to be‑‑ not a sleeper, but somebody to contend with when the race is over with. He ran very well in the trucks last year.

Q. This is the first race for you guys where stage points don't count. Does that make a strategic difference? Does that give you more freedom?
ELLIOTT SADLER: We talked about that this week about tire deal because how many sets of tires we have laying and when you use them and when you don't and no stage point. Only thing we look at is this. We know cautions are coming. To us, they're like competition cautions. There's no points for us. It doesn't matter for that. We just look at it as a competition caution. We can work on our car these particular laps if we have to do setup changes. So that's the way we've looked at it as a race team.

Q. Do you feel this is the only week that matters?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I've told some of you all this this year. What I learned last year through 2016, how many race wins you get and how you run and all that stuff, it just doesn't matter until you get to Homestead. And I don't want y'all to take that the wrong way. In the position I'm in at my age, finishing second in the points three of the last five years, Homestead is really the only thing that matters to me.
People ask me about winning, this, that, and the other all during the regular season. It just doesn't matter. Homestead is the only race that matters to me and my race team. It's either win the championship or we don't. A second is not a moral victory. Third is not a moral victory. It's just we need to win this championship, and I think we need to win‑‑ I think we're going to have to win the race Saturday night.
We saw that here last year. We've seen that in here every time the cup guys come down here for the final four. It just seems like the cream rises to the top, but it all depends on what you do here Saturday night at Homestead.
It does not make a flip how we ran and what happened at Phoenix. It does not matter. Nothing carries over. It's a new weekend, new cars, different cars, new circumstances, and a lot on the line. We've put all our eggs in this basket, and we're going to see where it takes us.

Q. Is the first 32 weeks fun, or is it crappy?
ELLIOTT SADLER: It's fun. Oh, man, it's fun. It's no pressure. It's great, man. It's fun. I'm fortunate to be with a team that we were good enough in points, and we could run up front all the time. We had a good points lead. Heck, yeah, it's fun.
What I've learned is don't let the lows be so low. Yeah, we might have made a bad pit call or I made an error on a restart and we didn't win, but, hey, man, we still got Homestead. That's the way I looked at it this year. I feel like I've aged less this year than I have in a long time in racing.

Q. Mama Bell will be here this weekend?
ELLIOTT SADLER: She's here. My mom and my dad are coming. I'm going to tell you what, guys, you don't realize this until you get older. My parents, just like a lot of parents that have kids they raised, sacrificed a lot for me and my brother when we were kids to make sure we have the best we could have.
My parents are getting some age on them now and don't travel as much as they used to. This is kind of an eggs in one basket thing. I would love to hand my mom and dad a trophy for all the work they've done, and I know my time's running out. I get it. I understand it. This would be a great opportunity to be able to do that. So hopefully, we can make that happen.

Q. When your career is done driving, what kind of presence do you want to have in the sport? Is there something like you want to try to do radio in the booth or just a mentor to these younger guys? Do you want to stay around?
ELLIOTT SADLER: I'll be honest with you. I'll probably, when my day is up, I'm going to stay at home. I don't want to‑‑ I love being in a race car. I don't know if I want to spend 30 weeks out of the year leaving home away from my kids not to be in a race car.
Now, if I can help and mentor young guys coming along, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy doing that, especially with William this year. I have loved it. I would like to do that part would be fine. But I like coaching kids at home and involved in my kids' sports and doing stuff like that at school. That's probably where you'll see me. I don't think you're going to see me at too many racetracks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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