By admin | February 5, 2009
By Richard Allen
Over the off season Elliott Sadler got married…And he almost got divorced.
Sadler’s marriage was to the former Amanda Prince. And, he was almost divorced from Gillett-Evernham Motorsports. Or, as it is now known, Richard Petty Motorsports.
As for the marriage of the Sadlers, hopefully it will be one of long term bliss.
As for the marriage of Elliott Sadler to the now named Richard Petty Motorsports, it would not seem as though long term bliss can be possible.
Over the off season, rumors surfaced that Sadler was out of the #19 car and would be replaced young A.J. Allmendinger. Then, rumor had Sadler and his employers headed to court to straighten out the contractual mess. Soon after the second rumor, an announcement was made that Sadler would indeed be the driver of the #19 Dodge.
Sadler’s 2008 season was less than spectacular. No wins, two Top 5s and eight Top 10s were the result of the Virginia driver’s labor. Those numbers must not have been exactly what George Gillett and his staff were looking for. So, they apparently tried to make a move. That attempt failed when the lawyers got involved and it became a certainty that a big buyout would have to be paid.
Here’s the question now that all the legal issues have been settled. How difficult will it be to have a successful season considering the team ownership does not seem to want their driver?
Even Sadler did not try to sugarcoat the situation during an interview at the Daytona media day on Thursday. “We’ve had some bad times in the off season and we had some good times too,” the driver admitted.
There are some teams who will start the season with all the pieces in place for success. There are some teams who will start the season with no chance of success. One team, the #19, will start the season with a tenuous relationship between owner and driver. There is no way that can make for a good situation.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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