Only 16 races into the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season, Elliott Sadler feels as if he has met every expectation in his first year with JR Motorsports.
“If you had a list of boxes you had to check for a season, especially for your sponsor, we feel like we have checked every box,” said Sadler, who is ranked second in points with 13 top 10’s and a playoff-securing victory at Talladega Superspeedway. “It’s been a great season. We’ve won. We’ve been a part of the championship chase. We’re running good enough to be on TV and in contention to make something good happen every week. So from a competitive standpoint, it’s been awesome.”
However with all the good that has happened on the track for Sadler, the business side of the sport took a downward spiral just the night before the XFINITY Series race at Daytona, he received a phone call that his longtime sponsor One Main Financial wouldn’t return next season.
While One Main wouldn’t comment on the situation, Sadler says they were looking to go a different direction as far as marketing is concerned.
“I think they want to go in a different direction than what racing is,” Sadler said. “They didn’t share a lot with me other than that part of it.”
Sadler, who has been friends with JR Motorsports co owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. for over two decades hopes a championship is enough to sure up his prospects of staying with the organization going into next season.
“The future is 100 percent uncertain with all this happening, but if I could get a blank sheet of paper and write down a wish list, it’d be to still race with JR Motorsports moving forward,” Sadler said. “It’s a great company, and off the track, they offer stuff no other team has with social media and digital consumption. Dale and I have been friends since we were teenagers, and that has made the season so special.
“We kind of looked each other in the eyes last year and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to win races with each other?’ We’ve done that. That’s what made the phone call so hard to take, but I’ve got to look at the flip side of it. There’s so many positives going on with this year, it was definitely sad to get that phone call, but man, we’ve got unfinished business. We’ve got to do a lot of little things to get where we need to win the championship. But we’re close where we need to be.”
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, co owner of JR Motorsports said in a statement that the organization wants to field three Chevrolet Camaros for the 2017 XFINITY Series season. The team also fields the No.7 for Justin Allgaier and the No.88 which is split between multiple drivers.
“Obviously we were disappointed to hear that One Main will end its longtime NASCAR presence but understand their reasons and respect their decision,” she said. “We’ve enjoyed their partnership – they’ve been nothing but class – and will continue to work hard to win a championship with our No. 1 team and Elliott Sadler.
“As for JR Motorsports, our goal for 2017 is to continue to run three full-time teams in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Hopefully we can do that. This is a business, and sponsorship drives the business. We’re already working hard to secure the funding we need to race three teams. I like what JR Motorsports has to offer. We’re as competitive as we’ve ever been, and we deliver value far beyond the track.”