Elliott Sadler came into Friday night’s Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway with the points lead. However, after a 21st place finish, Sadler now leaves Daytona frustrated and disappointed.
Sadler kicked off the night well, holding down the lead at lap eight with teammates Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr. The three-some led all the way till the first pit stop at lap 37 and that even went well as Sadler came off second behind Busch. However, the night would unravel from there as Sadler was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop at lap 43 due to a loose wheel. Sadler would go a lap down at lap 48, though was able to get back on the lead lap at the debris caution at lap 51.
Sadler began to work his way back up through the field, though saw the night unravel once again as he’d go for a spin with three laps to go into the infield when second place runner Chase Elliott didn’t go on the restart due to lack of fuel pressure. As a result, Sadler would post a finish outside of the top 20, now slipping to second in points, 12 points behind Regan Smith.
“We were fast and unfortunately, there was a mistake,” Sadler commented. “The tracks that we run good at, we need to earn the most points and we didn’t tonight so now we have a hole to dig out of.”
The feeling is something that Sadler is used to, having lost the Nationwide Series championship before by inches a couple times in previous seasons. Does it consume his thoughts? No as Sadler says that it’s not something that he worries himself over as if you do, “you’re going to be tore all to pieces by the time November gets here.” Rather, Sadler says that he focuses on racing each race and trying to get the best finish that he can.
“I race to try to run upfront and let’s lead some laps and let’s put ourselves in position to try to win the race,” he commented. “Let’s take some chances and if we can do that and the points will take care of themselves. We look at the points a little bit, but it’s just not that time of season yet to — there’s too many wild card races and stuff left to do. I mean, we’re only halfway to say the least.”
For now, the rule is simple – keep racing everyone hard and “race people how they race you”. Sadler recognizes Elliott as one of the championship contenders and says that so far, they’ve given each other room. On the flip side, it hasn’t always been like that with fellow contender Smith.
“Regan and I had a few mishaps last year, we’ve had none this year,” Sadler commented. “Just kind of — rule number one in racing and I don’t care if you’re racing in the Trucks or Nationwide or Cup, most of the guys are going to race you how you race them. I don’t care if you’re — it doesn’t matter whether you’re leading the points or not — if you give room and respect to this guy at the beginning of the race, he’s going to do the same for you and vice versa.”