HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 17, 2013) – On-the-go. That’s where you’ll catch Elliott Sadler.
He’s a full-time driver on the NASCAR Nationwide Series circuit in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Toyota. He’s a NASCAR TV analyst and a sports fanatic. He’s a family man – a husband to Amanda, and a dad to two small children, 3-year-old Wyatt and 1-year-old Austyn.
And that’s just a handful of roles the 37-year-old Emporia, Va., native juggles.
Beginning this weekend at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, add one more line to Sadler’s job description – part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Sadler will pilot JGR’s No. 81 Alert Energy Toyota Camry for three races, including this Sunday’s STP 400, and also at both the May and October races at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
With Sadler’s busy lifestyle and past history with Mars, Inc. – he drove the M&M’s car from 2003 through August 2006 – it’s only fitting he’s the driver helping to introduce Alert™ Energy Caffeine Gum to NASCAR fans. For Sadler, who keeps a packed schedule both on and off the racetrack, Alert Energy is the perfect solution to help him keep going from one thing to the next.
Alert Energy, which is available nationwide in stores this month, is a new energy product for adults that lets people control the amount of caff¬eine they want on-the-go. One piece of gum is equivalent to about a half cup of coffee.
With only one Sprint Cup start to his credit since 2010 – last year’s season-opening Daytona 500 – Sadler is especially eager to get back behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup car for JGR and compete at the sport’s top level once again. And the opportunity to partner once more with Mars, Inc., and help a company that has meant so much to his career is something he relishes.
Sadler has one top-five and three top-10 finishes in 10 Sprint Cup starts at Kansas, with a best finish of fourth in 2004. His last Sprint Cup start at the track came in 2010, but he has earned two top-five finishes in two starts in the Nationwide Series in the two seasons since then.
Sadler hopes that a strong run at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval this weekend will help introduce his grown up fans to Alert Energy.
ELLIOTT SADLER, Driver of the No. 81 Alert Energy Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
You have 10 Sprint Cup starts at Kansas with one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Your last Sprint Cup start there was 2010. Talk about racing at Kansas this weekend. “We’re looking forward to going back to Kansas because it is a fun racetrack. It’s a very new racetrack as far as being repaved, so I think it’s kind of new to everybody. We really feel like we’re going to be on a level playing field when we get there. Everybody from JGR has done a really good job getting this No. 81 Alert Energy Camry ready to go. They’ve run very, very well on the mile-and-a-half tracks as a company. Matt Kenseth won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kyle Busch won last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. I have high hopes going there. I’ve got a lot of optimism. We feel really good about the setup in the car and everything we have in place. We’re just looking forward to getting on the racetrack.”
You raced on the new pavement at Kansas last year in the Nationwide Series and finished fourth. Do you think what you learned in that race will help you once you get back on the track in the No. 81 Alert Energy Toyota Camry on the Sprint Cup side? “I think some of it will translate. It’s funny that you asked that. Chris (Gayle, crew chief) and I have had a lot of conversations about how the Cup cars reacted on the new asphalt and my experience in the Nationwide cars there last year on the new asphalt. I think the one good thing is that I have a race under my belt at least in racing conditions. I know it was a Nationwide car. At least being on the new asphalt, knowing what tires did – what two tires did, what four tires did – how my car reacted in traffic, one or two lanes of traffic as far as racing is concerned, I do have some track time there just as much as anybody else does. We took my background knowledge and what I learned from my team last year, and we took everything Chris and those guys learned last year with the new paving job and we’ve put it all together and we really feel like we have a good plan for this weekend.”
What does it mean to you to get back in a Sprint Cup car this weekend, and the first time in a Sprint Cup car for Joe Gibbs Racing? “It means a lot to me. I don’t really know that I can give it justice by the words. I can tell you today that it means a lot to me. J.D. Gibbs and Coach Gibbs have given me a great opportunity. J.D. is such a first-class guy, very upfront. From the first time we sat down and talked to each other about my future at JGR and the opportunities that may come up ahead of me, he’s just been right on the money. For those guys to give me this chance, for Alert Energy Gum to come on board and put this all together and really make this come true is very special to me. To be able to come back to the Sprint Cup Series in a competitive situation with a team that is really standing behind me for these few races, really means a lot to me. To be able to do it at Kansas, it’s a place that I’m very comfortable at. I really like mile-and-a-half racetracks. It’s just a great situation, and I really can’t put into words how much to thank the Gibbs family and everybody at JGR for this opportunity.”
You have a new brand – Alert Energy Caffeine Gum – on your car this weekend. It’s a product that will be launching nationwide in the coming days. How important is it for you to help them build the brand and the fan base through the race this weekend? “I think this is neat because I’m coming back to the Cup Series for the first time in a long time this weekend. I ran the Daytona 500 last year, but my last full season was in 2010. Alert Energy Gum has never been in the sport and they are doing a great product launch and kind of surrounding themselves around the NASCAR fan and a NASCAR program with us as their team. That’s cool. Not everybody gets to help introduce a brand. For them to put their trust in me and for them to put their name on the hood and sides of my car and put their trust in JGR for us going to Kansas and being part of this launch means a lot. This is a new product to the sport, so we want to represent it well. We want to come out of the box and do a really good job. It’s a neat product, man. It’s got a great concept, and I think a lot of race fans can relate to it. I think a lot of people in the race industry can relate to it because we live on the road so much. I know that Alert Energy Gum is perfect for me because it keeps me going from one thing to the next. I think they’ve hit a home run with this product, and we’re privileged and honored to have it on board this weekend.”
As you’ve talked about, Alert Energy Gum is a new product. But this weekend, you are also reunited with an old friend as Alert Energy Gum is part of the Mars, Inc., brand, which you raced for from 2003 to August 2006. What does that mean to you? “I don’t think it’s any secret that I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the folks with Mars, Inc. I made really good friends within the company, and I’ve always been proud that I had the opportunity to represent them. While I was driving the M&M’s car and even after we went our separate ways, we kept a really close relationship with everyone up there. For them to entrust in me to represent one of their brands on the Wrigley side means a lot. It’s a small world, sometimes, and sometimes your paths come back across. The way they’ve treated me the last 10 years has been absolutely phenomenal – just really good people, great friendships. I love to see them doing well each and every weekend on that 18 car with Kyle (Busch), and for them to give me this opportunity means a lot to me. It puts the pressure on me because I want to be able to give back to them half as much as they have given to me, so we want to go out there and do a good job this weekend.”