Talladega, Ala. While nearly everyone is watching the 10-man NASCAR Nextel Cup championship battle, Elliott Sadler is chasing an 11th-place finish that would pay his team a $1 million bonus and provide momentum for 2006.
Sadler got a leg up on the competition Friday by winning the pole for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 38 Ford after a lap of 189.260 mph.
Sadler, who came up just 66 points short of making it into the playoff-style Chase for the championship, is back up to 11th after finishing sixth Sunday in Dover. But only 137 points separate the Robert Yates Racing driver from teammate Dale Jarrett, 15th in the standings.
In between are Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and four-time series champion and four-time Talladega winner Jeff Gordon.
"We're still frustrated not being in the top 10," Sadler said. "I think we're a good enough team to be in the Chase, but we're not going to hang our heads and cry about it. There's a lot of good race teams out there.
"(Finishing 11th) is very important to us, but our No. 1 goal, and it's going to start Sunday, is to get some wins," added Sadler, whose last of three victories came last September at California Speedway.
It was Sadler's fifth career pole and third of the season, but his first since Kevin Buskirk became his crew chief in a shake-up two weeks ago that also included Jarrett's team.
Harvick qualified second for Sunday's race at 189.032, but was sent to the back of the 43-car field after his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet failed inspection. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said a post-qualifying inspection found "several violations in the trunk area of the car."
That moved Jarrett up to second at 188.776, followed by two of the contenders for the title, Ryan Newman at 188.596 and Tony Stewart at 188.570.