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“They Wouldn’t Let Me Out”- Elliott Sadler Unmasks Jack Roush’s Career Jeopardizing Move That Forced a $1 Million Penalty

Published 11/20/2023, 2:43 PM EST

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Elliott Sadler had a long tenure in the NASCAR Cup Series. The two teams he raced for the longest were Wood Brothers Racing and Robert Yates Racing. However, the transition from one team to the other was full of drama and hard feelings. It also involved the owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing, Jack Roush.

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During his time in the Cup Series, Elliott Sadler only won three races- once with Wood Brothers Racing and twice with Robert Yates Racing. He might not have been crowned the Cup Series champion, but he remained a fan favorite for his time in the sport.

The drama that unfolded between Elliott Sandler and Jack Roush


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In a recent episode of Kenny Conversation with Kenny Wallace, Elliott Sadler spoke about the tumultuous time he had in 2002 because of Jack Roush. It was a time when he was driving for Wood Brothers Racing. It would be his final season with the outfit before moving to Robert Yates Racing. That switch, however, was a period of hell for the former Cup Series driver.

As per Sadler, his contract, while he was with the Wood brothers, was actually done with Jack Roush himself. Eddie Wood, at the time, had asked him to sign a 4-year deal for sponsorship-retention reasons. The driver of the No. 21 was also given certain assurances, and when the time came for those assurances to be met, Jack Roush simply said no.


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“My contract wasn’t done with Eddie and Len. It was done with Jeff Smith at Roush, who was the head guy. They came to me and said look, we need you to sign another four-year deal. If you don’t sign, [Ford] Motorcraft is not going to sign.

“I said, ‘Eddie, I can’t sign a four-year deal.’ Something was coming. I kind of knew it was coming down the pipeline. I was going to get another opportunity and Eddie said, ‘Listen, please sign. If you sign and if something comes up and you want to leave, I will let you leave, no problem’,” Sadler said.

It was a tough decision, but Elliott Sadler had a healthy respect for Eddie Wood and his brother Len Wood. So when Eddie gave his word, Sadler signed the deal to help the team out. But when Richard Yates came calling the same year (2002), Jack Roush simply did not let him leave.

“I signed the deal and in the middle of 2002, Robert Yates and M&M’s come calling. So I went to Eddie Wood. I said, ‘Eddie, I’m sorry but look at this, this is a great opportunity’ but he goes, ‘I understand, me and you have a deal, no problem.’ When he went to Roush, to get me out of my contract, they wouldn’t let me out of the contract,” the 48-year-old revealed. However, that was not even the worst of it.

Elliott Sadler was a competitive race car driver. He simply was not going to stay with a team where he did not feel good. He pushed for his release. In response, this took more than $1 million of Sadler’s hard-earned money.

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Former Cup Series driver reveals Jack Roush’s $1 million plus punishment

There was shock on Kenny Wallace’s face when Sadler revealed that Jack Roush had forced him to forfeit all of his season’s winnings for the rest of the year. It is indeed unheard of.

“I had to forfeit my winnings for the rest of the year in 2002, which was over a million dollars. You know how racing is, there is a small window. Sponsors, teams. You can’t wait around. We’re gonna move to the next guy. So I had to do all this stuff, pretty much forfeit my winnings for the rest of the year to have an opportunity to go and drive the #38 car. So that was my beef with Roush,” he explained.


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It goes to show just how difficult it is to be a motorsports athlete. Drivers are often subject to severe hardships by their team owners, and Elliott Sadler was arguably a victim of the same. What do you think about the matter? Was Jack Roush’s action justified?

“They Pushed Me Out”- Elliott Sadler Reveals NASCAR’s Blatant Hypocrisy Amidst Promotion of the Sport

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh


One take at a time

Drivers these days need to be more like Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. Well, now you know who my favorites are. For me, it all began with my interest in F1, but I was just tired of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen showing unparalleled dominance.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh