Originally created 07/10/02

Sadler wants Rudd's ride, but no deal yet with Yates



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Elliott Sadler wants to drive the famed No. 28 Ford if Ricky Rudd vacates it at the end of the season but said Tuesday he has no deal in place with Robert Yates Racing.

Sadler, 27, is leaving the Wood Brothers at the end of the year and is one of the most sought after free agents on the circuit. But he's got his eye on Rudd's ride, should it become available.

"I'm waiting to kind of see what the announcement is going to be with the 28 car and I've put a lot of eggs in that basket," he said. "But the position I'm in, as of today, I have not signed anything with Robert Yates Racing.

"So I'm just kind of waiting and hanging out to see what happens. If (Rudd) decides to retire, they have to put someone else in the car and I feel like I'm at the top of that list. But it's a big chance I'm taking."

Rudd, whose contract expires at the end of the year, has set July 15 as his deadline to announce his plans. He has three options: He can stay in the No. 28, leave for another team or retire.

Rudd, 45, said at Daytona last weekend that his first choice is to stay with Yates on a one-year contract, but Yates might prefer a driver willing to make a long-term commitment.

"I want to stay put, I want to do one-year contracts from here on out and it really depends on if we can work it out," Rudd said last week. "I wouldn't rule out retirement, but if I can get Robert to agree to a one-year contract, I would probably put it off."

Should Rudd stay with Yates, it doesn't necessarily mean Sadler is out in the cold.

There's been talk that Yates could expand to three teams - Dale Jarrett also drives for him - and that prospect took a stronger turn last weekend when Yates' son, Doug, admitted he's started the process toward owning a Winston Cup race team.

Doug Yates has filed incorporation documents in Mecklenburg County in hopes of becoming a Winston Cup car owner.

"I've had some opportunities in the past and may have some opportunities in the future, and I thought it would be a good time to get the corporation to have things ready if the opportunity came along that might fit for me and my team," he said.

Sadler said Tuesday he didn't know about the Doug Yates deal.

"I don't know, we hadn't got that far," he said. "Everybody is waiting to see Ricky's situation and then a lot of dominos are going to fall."

Also, Sadler said there has been no ill will between him and Rudd even though he's openly coveted Rudd's job.

Rudd has indicated some irritation over the possibility that even if wanted to keep his job, Sadler might already have it locked up. But Sadler said things are fine between the two Ford drivers.

"I asked Ricky a long time ago, I think in January of this year, what his plans were and how long he would be in the 28 car," Sadler said. "We talked about it and he didn't know. So I said 'If you decide not to stay, put in a good word for me.' I'm not in a hurry, that is his race car and we all know that."