Showing posts with label Elliott Sadler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elliott Sadler. Show all posts

Elliott Sadler at RIR
Virginia driver Elliott Sadler is in the middle of what might be his best season as a driver yet.
"I hate that it's the first year of the Chase," Elliott Sadler said with a chuckle. "I mean I love it and think it's great for the Series, but I hate to give up a 47-point lead heading into the playoffs."

Well that was then. 

At the time, Sadler was at Richmond International Raceway preparing for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 - the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Emporia, VA native sat atop the XFINITY Series standings in the midst of a season that will go down as one of his best.

"I'd rather win at (Richmond) than anywhere else in the country," Sadler said of his hometown track. "I've got a lot of family and friends that come here for this race - it's really racing at home. Racing in our backyard puts so much emotion into it, it's a bucket list item for me."

Although his fourth place finish in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 meant that elusive Action Track win would stay on that list at least a little longer, the JR Motorsports driver finds himself poised to check off an even bigger item.

With just four races left on the XFINITY Series schedule, Sadler still sits atop the field as we move into the Round of 8 for the inaugural Chase for the XFINITY Championship.

"We've had a dream season. I can't tell you how proud I am of Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) and Dale Junior, the equipment they've given us, along with my crew chief Kevin (Meendering) and his guys," Sadler said. "We've just been bringing fast cars to the race track week in and week out. We've been very consistent, we're in the top-10 each and every week."

Through 29 races he's finished sixth or better 18 times, posted three wins, and, aside from a mishap back at Charlotte in May, he's finished on the lead lap every race. Had the XFINITY Series not adopted the successful Chase format like its counterpart Cup Series, the Virginia driver might've been a virtual lock for the 2016 XFINITY Series Championship.

As it turns out, he's more than capable of rolling with the change, too.

Sadler kicked off his postseason run in historic fashion, winning the first ever NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race in Kentucky. The regular season points leader then followed up his win with a seventh place finish at Dover and a second place showing at Charlotte.

Elliott Sadler succeeding in Chase format
The JR Motorsports driver has posted an average finish of 6.9 this season - the best of his career.
"It's by far the best season I've ever had in racing," Sadler said. "We want to capitalize on it and I've got a great group of guys around us. We're just going to keep after it."

In his first season with JR Motorsports, Sadler enters the Round of 8 looking to extend his streak of 14-straight top-10's en route to a Championship showdown in Homestead-Miami. And while he claims it's his best season to date, whats even more important for the NASCAR vet is he's having the time of his life.

"I like showing up to the race track every week knowing you have the chance to win, and I like appreciating the hard work that's going on around me," Sadler said. "I am in the best situation I've been in in a long time, I'm having more fun than I've had in a long time...I can't see myself doing anything different."

Nor should he. As long as Sadler keeps doing what he's doing, there's a good chance he'll be bringing an XFINITY Series Championship to the Commonwealth.

Jimmie Johnson wins
It really was just a matter of time, wasn't it? For the first time under the current Chase format, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson secured his spot in the Round of 8 with his eighth victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. "We knew we would get back," Johnson said in Victory Lane. "It was slower than we wanted it to be but to be here today and have this victory is great. We were able to execute all day long here. I just really can’t thank everyone enough that supports us and for all the fans that were tuned in today."

Chase Elliott

Johnson's teammate Chase Elliott was also poised for a strong finish in the 704, until a wreck on Lap 258 ended his day early. The Sprint Cup rookie led 103 laps and was running fifth when contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon caused a wreck that sent both the No. 3 and No. 24 into the garage. "We had such a good car and I am devastated that we didn't get the result that the guys deserved," Elliott said. "They gave me such a fast 3M Chevy and that is all you can ask for. We just have got to go and do more of that next week." Dillon and Elliott weren't the only two Chase contenders short on luck either. Drivers Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin suffered car troubles that knocked them out of the race prematurely.

XFINITY Chase Grid

Ty Dillon is out, Darrell Wallace Jr. is in - with just one point separating the two. After a hectic race in Charlotte on Sunday, the inaugural XFINITY Chase field was cut to eight drivers and Dillon was one of four drivers who's championship dreams came to an end. "Man, it's heartbreaking," an emotional Dillon said after the race. "We're a team that should have been in the final round and you've got to expect things to happen...That's the way this Chase is built." Daniel Suarez and Emporia's own Elliott Sadler lead the remaining drivers, thanks to their respective wins at Kentucky and Dover. Fellow XFINITY race winner Erik Jones also made the cut, joining Wallace, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed and Blake Koch in the field. Think you know who'll make the next round of cuts? Make your picks here.

Breathing Room?

Breathing Room? What Breathing Room?
If Sunday showed us anything, it's that the notion of "breathing room" in the Chase might be little more than an illusion. As 2014 champion Kevin Harvick pointed out last week - "trouble can strike anywhere." That certainly came to fruition in Charlotte when nearly half the Chase field was sent to the garage early. While nearly every driver had spoken about the importance of strong finishes at Charlotte and Kansas before cut-off race in Talladega, Sunday's contest proved to be an exhaustive gauntlet the entire field navigated all afternoon. Now the circus travels to Kansas City where there will be even more pressure for drivers to survive and advance in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Kevin Harvick

Harvick Gets Lucky in Loudon
Make that two tickets punched to the Round of 12. Kevin Harvick joins Martin Truex Jr. as a lock to advance to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his win in New Hampshire Sunday. Harvick overtook race leader Matt Kenseth - who was gunning for his third straight Loudon win - off the final restart with five laps to go and held on for his third victory of the season. “For me, it was just a smooth restart,” Harvick said. “I just didn’t want to spin the tires. I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.” It was Harvick’s 34th career Sprint Cup Series win and second at NHMS, with his last coming in 2006.

Elliott Sadler

An emotional Elliott Sadler celebrated history over the weekend, becoming the first driver to win a race under the new XFINITY Series Chase format."We fought through a lot tonight," Sadler said in Victory Lane. "I'm going to get a little emotional on you, I've been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example." The Emporia, VA native expertly navigated his way through a caution-filled battle for the 13th win of his XFINITY career.

Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart

The season's not over yet, but there's already been news of some big changes coming in 2017 with Stewart-Haas Racing front racing. Clint Bowyer will be behind the wheel of the 14 once the "Smoke" clears, and it'll be running on a Roush Yates Ford. NASCAR takes a look at these and a few other changes coming down the pipeline this winter.

Jamie Mcmurray, Austin Dillon, Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher

The field will get a little tighter after this weekend's race in Dover as four drivers will be eliminated from Chase contention. With two first-timers and a future Hall of Famer on the cusp of elimination, we could see some monster action at the "Monster Mile." Less than 20 points separate 7th-place Denny Hamlin from 13th-place Jamie McMurray, so don't be surprised to see some serious shake-ups before the Round of 12 is officially underway.
Double Burnout
Even Mother Nature was no match for Kevin Harvick, who raced his way to his second win on the season in the rain-delayed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol. "We should have won a lot of races this year, but things did not go our way," Harvick said. "We made mistakes or whatever the case may be, (so) to get back into Victory Lane feels good." Apparently it was good enough to share too. After the race, Harvick encouraged fellow driver and team owner Tony Stewart to celebrate Stewart's final race at Bristol. The result? A synchronized burnout to remember. "I really wanted him to ride around that track with me, but that's why he's the boss," said Harvick.

Chris Buescher

After shocking the NASCAR world with a win at Pocono two weeks ago, Chris Buescher continued his meteoric rise into the Chase conversation with a fifth place showing at Bristol. "We're out here to get a championship and to get wins, " Buescher said. "We come to these next handful of races with a great opportunity to make the Chase." The finish put him inside the top-30 in points, and should he protect that standing through Michigan, Darlington and Richmond - we'll see this rookie standing among the field of 16 following the Federated Auto Parts 400 checkered flag.

Elliott Sadler

There's something to be said for stability, and that's exactly what JR Motorsports and XFINITY Series driver Elliott Sadler established Wednesday. Longtime sponsor One Main financial inked a multi-year deal to return with Sadler and the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller.  "We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Elliott Sadler and JR Motorsports," said OneMain Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Hurzeler. "Elliott has been an outstanding ambassador for OneMain and we look forward to our continued success with Elliott and JRM, on and off the track." The Emporia, VA native currently sits atop the XFINITY Series points standings, 51 points ahead of second place Daniel Suarez.

Alex Bowman

Jeff Gordon is out, Alex Bowman is in. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. still working his way back onto the track, Alex Bowman will fill in behind the wheel of the No. 88 this weekend in Michigan. Gordon has filled in for the past four races, while Bowman subbed for Junior at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earlier this season.

If the season ended today, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman would be in, leaving the likes of Trevor Bayne and Kyle Larson on the outside. But with three races left, there's a chance someone could win their way into the Chase. Guess you'll just have to be there to find out.