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Sadler To Slide Into Fusion

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2009

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Richard Petty Motorsports’ transition to the Ford camp for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season will begin this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Elliott Sadler’s No. 19 Stanley Tools entry will be re-bodied as a Ford Fusion for Sunday’s AMP Energy 500. Sadler will return to his No. 19 Dodge Charger for the final three races of 2009.

“Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the fulltime switch at Daytona in 2010,” Sadler said in a news release. “Since this is the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a Ford to get some work done in advance. This will be our first time to practice and work on a Fusion under real race conditions. It should help us get ready to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season. I’ll be back in a Dodge at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, but since it’s important to start a season off on the right foot, we thought we’d try to get a head start.”

Sadler is 26th in Cup points through 32 starts, with one top-five and four top-10 finishes.

All three of Sadler’s three career Sprint Cup victories have been scored in a Ford, including two in a Robert Yates Racing-prepared entry. Sadler recorded his most recent victory on Sept. 5, 2004 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

This is the first Ford entry in the brief history of Richard Petty Motorsports, the company formed in January 2009 via the merger of Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) and Petty Holdings. Formerly Evernham Motorsports, GEM was founded in 2000 with support from Dodge. Evernham Motorsports fielded three Ford entries in 2000 for Casey Atwood, who posted a best finish of 10th in the season-ender at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Team-owner Richard Petty scored the majority of his record 200 Cup wins in either Plymouth or Dodge stock cars, but this will hardly be the first time the Petty family has been associated with the Blue Oval. Petty, NASCAR’s first seven-time Cup champion, made 48 of 50 starts in a Ford during the 1969 season, recording nine wins, 29 top-fives, 36 top-10s and 2,291 laps-led. Petty drove a Plymouth in the first two races of that season, recording a win at Macon, Ga., and a second-place finish at Montgomery, Ala.

King Richard’s last race in a Ford was on Dec. 2, 1969 at Texas World Speedway in College Station, where he drove to a 21st-place finish.

The last time a Petty-owned team (Petty Enterprises) fielded a Ford Sprint Cup Series entry was April 14, 1985 in the TransSouth 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Morgan Shepherd drove the No.1 car to an 18th-place finish.

Sadler, 34, started 130 points races in a Robert Yates Racing Ford from the 2003 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway to the road-race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in August 2006. Sadler has seven career poles, all in Yates-prepared Fords. Sadler has three poles on the high-banked, 2.66-mile Talladega layout, the most recent on May 1, 2006.

Overall, Sadler has made 269 career Cup starts in a Ford between the Wood Brothers (1999-2002) and Robert Yates Racing (Daytona ‘03 to Watkins Glen ’06). Sadler’s last 118 Cup starts have been in a Dodge, a streak that began on Aug. 20, 2006 at Michigan International Speedway.

Sadler’s only appearance in the 10-race Chase for the Cup came during the 2004 season. Sadler collected wins at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., eight top-fives, 14 top-10s and led 254 laps in route to a ninth-place points finish in a RYR Ford.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 28 2009
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