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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elliott Sadler, you're fired!

Remember when Marty Mcfly was ‘fired’ via a fax in ‘Back to the Future II’? One has to wonder if that was the manner in which GEM fired Elliott Sadler even though there was two years left on his contract. There is never a good time to let ANY employee go, and there is never a pleasant way to do it, but business decisions like this are made every day in the ‘real world’ and when I have been asked over and over via email and phone calls if I ‘was surprised by this move’, my answer has been the same every time. ‘Not really’

There have been many questions by the Sadler faithful of when and why the GEM management did this and I have a couple of theories (as speculation is pretty much all we can go by at this point until the principals speak up.)

Question #1; When was the Sadler camp informed?

OneLugNutShort’s theory: We pretty much all know that Elliott has been spending much of, if not all of the off season at home in Emporia (getting ready for his big date) and at his hunting camp(s) which are located near Emporia (which allows dog hunting). I would think that a decision of this magnitude would have to be done ‘face to face’ and at the GEM shop/offices. Tracking Elliott’s private jet in December reveals two possible dates. Dec 1st in which the jet made two trips before noon est between Statesville and Emporia. (1st trip to pick up Elliott at home in Emporia and the second trip to return him) Allowing for a little over two hours in Statesville in between leaving open for the possible ‘meeting’ time. The second possible date would fall on December 14th when Sadler's jet had spent the previous two days in Emporia only to fly to Statesville, where the plane set idle for almost 8 hours before flying to Greensboro, NC, where the jet has set idle since.

Just speculation but I think that Sadler was informed on Dec 1st personally (a Monday), and that the team would be ‘privately’ informed in Dec 15th (another Monday) thus allowing Sadler to ‘clear’ out his personal affects the day before on Dec 14th, a Sunday.

Question #2: Why did GEM do this?

The question of the week and there are many reasons. But I am reminded of a post by Brett Griffin on SFC that pretty much sums up the hirings and firings in the NASCAR CUP world as we have come to know it today.

“To quote Eddie Wood in 1999 when I first met him, "Brett, if this were easy everybody would do it".

Well, it isn't easy and that's why the best of the best survive -- drivers, crewmembers, owners and sponsors! (Hopefully if business managers and spotters fall into that saying I'll be around for at least a little while longer!) No one is exempt from that rule anymore. If you don't believe me just look at the lack of sponsors this year, look at the good ol' boys that no longer drive on a regular basis in the Cup Series or look at the teams who used to be around that you'll never hear of again -- the pioneer owners now down to a handful of smart business guys.”
Brett Griffin 3/10/08

I have read and seen some of the ‘excuses/justifications’ from some of the Sadler faithful going from ‘marketability and likeability’ to ‘equal equipment’ to the need to be with a more ‘loyal company’ and even ‘bad luck’. While these are factors that must be considered, they do not always carry as much weight, as the Sadler fan wants them to. Lets take a short look at each:

This can by a real touchy and unique subject and no matter how nice one is in front of the camera, if one doesn’t perform well and up to expectations on the track, the marketability can take a back seat. Looking back at the past couple of years, just where has Sadler ‘fit’ into his sponsor’s marketability plans? Other than the occasional cardboard stand-up at Best Buy in all honestly would it make any difference if it was A.J. Allmendinger or who ever. Sure Sadler lists his favorite fast food at the ‘Big Mac’, but I don’t see many add campaigns. There was the ‘Sonoco’ ad campaign but I think that was directed more towards the ‘likeability’ aspect (so below). Is A.J. as marketable as Sadler? On the short term, that answer is no, but when Sadler was cutting his teeth with the Wood Brothers, neither was he.

I have never been a fan of the ‘side show’ acts of Trackside Live, but there are many fans that do. That being said these appearances have to have added to his ‘likeability’ for many, but does that translate into sponsorship dollars and opportunity? Looking at that other ‘regular’ drivers on these types of shows, it appears to be more about shock value and an act, than the content of the show itself. Is A.J. as likeable as Sadler? Depends on your tastes, Ask me two years from now, but he is not unlikable at this point.

side bar: 2008 marked Elliott's Sadler's omission from the CHEX Most Popular Driver Award finalist (finishing in the top 10 in fan voting) after making the list in 2006 and 2007. Before 2006, Sadler had never been a finalist.

Equal equipment:
This has been an Achilles heal for a lot of drivers/fans when justifying poor performance. For the 2008 season, again I will fall back on a Brett Griffin quote from about 1/3 into the 2008 season.

“Are we getting the same stuff? Yes. Are there cars the same? No. And, they never will be. They have different teams and the reality is they may be similar but they'll never be the same... a round of wedge here, a track bar adjustment there, a degree more of right front camber on the right front, 50 pounds more spring in the right rear -- that's called racing man. And, that's what keeps us all coming back -- to see who will be the best next week
Brett Griffin 3/19/08”

Brett brings up some great points, which was further validated after the Spring Michigan race where Sadler asked to have ‘the same stuff as Kasey was getting’. Then crew chief Rodney Childers explained that the ‘stuff was the same, with the exception of the front end stuff the you (Elliott) don’t like’.

I think cutting to the core of what Brett was stating is that each driver gets different results from similar equipment. While that result may only be a quarter a tenth a lap difference over a fuel run, over the course of a race, that can be the difference between a top 10 and finishing a lap down. Is A.J. one of these drivers that can get that quarter a tenth? I honestly have no clue.

Loyal company/team:
Actually this is sort of amusing considering the history of GEM/Evernham and also considering Sadler himself. We are speaking of a driver with 10 full CUP seasons under his belt and raced for 3 different teams. Two of which Sadler broke existing and recently signed contracts to go to another race team. I have heard of one comment that Sadler did not burn any bridges when using ‘out clauses’ and such. Not sure, but I would be very surprised if Doug Yates has been waiting on Sadler’s door step to offer him his old job back. While time may have healed some open wounds with the Wood Brothers, even in their current state would they even consider Sadler again?

Bad Luck:
How many years is this one going to be used? It has been a staple since 2005. Lets just leave this one alone for now.

So what happens now? (Thanks Mr. Weber)
Is there a ride out there for Sadler? Of course. Will it be a ‘better’ ride than the 19? In the short term, no (there is a reason why the ride was open in the first place), but on the long run, who knows?

I think that Sadler puts his best seasons together when there are not high expectations placed on them. I don’t think he will ever be the ‘dominant’ driver of the tier one group (and there are only a handful of those), but he can still get the job done after ten years. When he focuses and has the drive, he is a smarter/better driver now than he was in the 2004 ‘chase’ season. And he will still have the best spotter in the business if he chooses.

The road is long, but I still believe there is ample time for a methodical return for the ‘Southern Gentleman’ on the track. You will bounce back, Elliott.


Anonymous said...

I think you have pegged it all the way around. I can't believe that the SFC is taking applications for next season when there is unfinished business going on right now.

Anonymous said...

McDonalds did zero advertising built around him.

Anonymous said...

It took Carolyn Yates to get Robert Yates and Ricky Rudd to reunite to bring Ricky back to RYR. I don't think that even Carolyn could bring back Sadler. But then again, if Sadler grovels AND brings a sponsor, I am sure that Max Jones and Doug Yates will consider him. But then, Max will sideswipe the sponsor and steal them away from Sadler, or at least, one can hope.

As far as McDonalds, I just want to shake my head! One Clown working for an organization with a Clown Icon. Perhaps they did build some adverts around Sadler, after all!

Anonymous said...

Sadler has burned too many bridges to rebound from this. You are kidding yourself if you think any owner worth their salt would wont this hack to drive for them.

silverdsl said...

These days it seems like a lot of fans think that unless a driver wins multiple races every season and has won championships, they're a useless "hack", but if a driver has won on the Cup level they've proven their worth. Despite the way some drivers who constantly win make it look, racing Cup is hard and a lot of things have to fall into place perfectly for a driver to end up in Victory Lane. Owners know better than anyone how hard it is. IMO, the only thing that will prevent Elliott from getting another ride is a lack of sponsorship which is what's been preventing a lot of good drivers from finding rides. Given a competitive car and the right situation Elliott the supposed "hack" can most definitely still find his way to Victory Lane.

On Sirius the other day, I forget whether it was Dave Moody or David Poole was saying that Elliott found out the day before Christmas that he was being let go and from the sounds of it he may not have been told in person.

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder WHAT Sadler may have ever done to deserve such disappointment.......as it said, 'things happen for a reason'. Perhaps this is simply a business matter, and not at all personal. But then again......

So often, people take things and other living beings for granted.

Elliott Sadler has learned a tough lesson.

Maybe he will be a "better" husband and father now that he has personally endured the shock of having his world collapse.


p.s. He should lose the "Spotter Man" troll. Griffin is one of the limitations that has cause Sadler to remain "small time" !

Snafam said...

There was early speculation that Elliott found out on Christmas Eve. But if you go and re-read the origingal article by Marty Smith, he says the team members and employees found out the week before Christmas.

Poole speculated that Sadler had heard it on Christmas Eve. Since then there have been further commentary from those in the business who heard this rumor a lot earlier! It was a done deal earlier than Christmas Eve.

Emporia Native said...

While I am never happy that anyone loses a job, I also am a stanch believer in all of the going around, karma and reaping philosophies. When you continually look down on people sooner or later it is going to bite you. For years Elliott and his select group he surrounds himself with have looked down on fans and what are known as the little people. When you do this, when you need them most you may find that they are not there. Substandard website, less then acceptable fan packs, holier than thou message board just a small part of Sadler fan loyalty. You must think he and his are gods or you will be shot down the minute your words hit the page. Well this “god” smiles in the fans faces and snickers behind their backs. Now even turning his poor attitude on children yes even autistic ones, the ones that he is supposed to care about the most, well at least if the camera is on. The only time he does anything anymore is if there is a benefit for him such as a media spot or cash reward. Time and time again they lie because how will you all know, do you really think you will know exactly what happened with his firing? If you do you are fools. Told time and time again that they need to step it up by various individuals for the fans, his handler’s state they don’t need a message board or website and if the fans don’t like the way it is they will just get rid of it. As time has progressed it has gotten worse and worse. They surround themselves with people that they think are safe, but if they only knew. They have run off so many good people, and continue to alienate the wrong ones, but you can’t tell them a thing, they know it all. Do I care for Amanda no, and that is from personal experiences, but his problems lie much deeper than that. They talk about him making her his choice, well Elliott his entire life has NEVER made choices on his own he is a puppet on a string that has been lead around for years and if he has managed to sneak one in here and there they have resulted in disaster. People tend to blame Elliott 100% for limited appearances and high cost events, and while he could stop it I guess when you are controlled it is a little hard. You can thank his handlers for those messes it is always money, money, and money. Seems like the ones who think they are so powerful are now the ones scrambling for a solution and the ones laughed at are still standing tall. Maybe this is a good thing for Elliott, he can clean out his staff and not need an excuse, and it would be a smart move. If he does get a ride good for him, but if he doesn’t well in my book he earned his fate. I hope this may teach him a lesson and he will sit back and take a look at the selfish, self-centered arrogant ass he has become. Yes he will get the buyout money, but money isn’t everything but soon that and Amanda may be all he has. This is where I pity him the most. What kind of life is that? One that he has created but, he still may have the power to change. Racing was a gift that he was given and yet he has slowly been wasting it. Those of you who say that him not being in Daytona the one day is not critical and important,, well you are oh so wrong. The state his affairs are in with his career and fan base that day is very important and EVERYTHING else can wait. You may think this is mean but in reality it is just being honest, something that many of those involved in this situation know nothing about. Watching this unfold is actually kind of sad as he has been for a long time, it honestly is time for Elliott to reevaluate his life.

Ok now you might say why would someone come on here and write this comment. The fact is we are frustrated in Emporia with the whole damn thing.

Anonymous said...

Inreresting that "Emporia Native" would expound so honestly, words heartfelt and candid.

What so many fans have suspected all along....Elliott Sadler is a shallow puppet, surrounded by enablers and soothsayers who prop him up when need be.

He is hopelessly end endlessly comforted "by the PEOPLE HE WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH" who still worship his boloney burger eating records. How sad.

Loved by hunting dogs but deserted by fans, he is doomed and destined to grow old in NASCAR legend as a driver who neither maximized his potential nor appreciated the opportunities he had.

He has lost most of his fans, all of his m & m's and any hope of rebuilding a racing future. He will never live down being bested by the diminutive Allmendinger.

Get married, Elliott, and live happily ever after...somewhere...maybe on television, but not in a race car.

The Days of Thunder are in the past.

Anonymous said...

Sadler's fans haven't deserted him....they've been systematically run off! BIG difference!

Anonymous said...

Oh business is picking up he's got his lawyer involved with GEM now.

Anonymous said...

This is the man who left Robert Yates Racing and m & m's "high and dry" to buy into Sleazy Ray's Den of Iniquity

Somebody has a really short memory.
It was all right for him to break a contract....

and now he is suing because he's a lousy driver.

Awful, awful, awful actions, Elliott. You've just done even more damage to what little reputation you have left.

No one will want you....except she who shall remain unmentioned.

Jon said...

Really? Elliott left RYR because the organization was on a downward spiral; look at what happened to Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd. Elliott showed up to Evernham motorsports and ran great the first year he was there. He ran great at Bristol, almost won the pole at California (I think it was California.) And look where that organization is at now, Kasey Kahne hit a hot streak in the middle of the season and then he did what the rest of GEM had done. Sure Allmendinger had a great run at the end of the season but will he be a race winner next year? I don’t think I’ll be eating my words when I say "not a chance." Elliott has been a victim of circumstance. He deserves a good ride. He is a classy guy, one of the best with the fans that I have ever met. He deserves a break and the people sitting here bashing him should look back at the last couple years and give the poor guy a break.

Anonymous said...

This last comment is so lacking of facts it's hilarious. Elliott had a good first year at GEM? Ok was that in 06 when he got there and had 2 top 10s in 13 races? Or are you counting his first full season in 07 when he ran 36 races and had a stunning 2 top 10s. In 2007 these drivers had more top 10s then Sadler:Blaney, Jeff Green, Stremme, Ragan (as a rookie), Yeley among others. JEFF GREEN!!!!! Mark Martin finished only 180 points behind him in the driver standings....but Mark ran 12 less races. Take off the rose colored glasses and smell some facts.

Anonymous said...

Well said,Jon!!!!

Anonymous said...

Elliott Sadler is lucky to have a ride as long as he did. He is a non performer and I applaud GEM for making changes so that they may win. Sorry someone lost their job, but come on...The man has never ran with the big boys.

James said...

So Elliott, it doesn't feel so good when the shoe is on the other foot, huh? Karma is a wonderful thing sometimes.....

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Sadlers can charge more for admission to the next

"Barn Party".....

Elliott's days of fooling people are over, excluding any poor saps categorized by the cliche':

"There's another sucker born every day!"

Anonymous said...

I am going to kill you. I am going to murder you.