Elliott Sadler will drive a Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega this weekend as Richard Petty Motorsports begins its transition to the blue oval four races early.
The Talladega event is the last restrictor-plate race of the season, and will give the team – which is finalizing its takeover of Yates Racing – a chance to test Ford machinery in racing conditions ahead of next year's season-opening Daytona 500. Following this Sunday's race, the team is also expected to test Fords at Daytona next Monday and Tuesday.
"Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the full-time switch at Daytona in 2010," said Sadler. "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 previously raced a Ford for Robert Yates Racing from 2003-'06, achieving two of his three career wins for the squad in that time.