Friday couldn’t have gone any better for Elliott Sadler, current driver of the No. 19 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports.
At Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, Sadler held a press conference with Kevin Harvick to announce a multi-year deal for Sadler to drive for Kevin Harvick Inc. full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and on a part-time basis in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Sadler won the inaugural NCWTS race at Pocono Raceway while running for KHI, one of five races he has run in the Truck Series this season for the team. Sadler also earned a pole position in the Nationwide Series for KHI at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this year.
“Kevin and DeLana and everyone at KHI have really rejuvenated my career,” stated Sadler. “I’ve been in some very fortunate situations throughout my career and I feel like running the races for KHI this year is a perfect example. It opened a lot of doors for me and obviously helped get us to this point. We’re committing to race for the Nationwide Championship in 2011. That’s a very achievable goal and one that I’m very hungry for. CitiFinancial is a partner I worked with when I drove for Robert Yates. We had a lot of fun during those days and I feel like this time around is going to be even better. We’re going to kick this partnership off in Homestead and spend all winter getting ready to run for a championship.”
Sadler will race the No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevrolet in the NCWTS race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale at the end of this year. CitiFinancial will be on the car for 29 races in the Nationwide Series next season with Sadler, and one with Harvick.
“DeLana and I couldn’t be happier to bring Elliott Sadler on board at KHI,” said KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick. “I think when you can bring somebody with that kind of experience to a team; it brings a very credible element to the program because he’s a proven winner in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series. For us, it’s the first time that we’ve had a legitimate shot to make a run at the Nationwide Series championship and that’s really exciting as team owners. We’ve been able to win two championships in the Truck Series, and I feel like the next step as a company is to pursue the Nationwide Series championship and I think Elliott Sadler is the right guy for the job.”
Later that day, Sadler qualified on the pole for the AAA Texas 500 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at TMS, laying down a lap of 27.636s at 195.397mph. Second-place qualifier Greg Biffle qualified with a time of 27.88s at 193.653mph.
“That was a really good lap for us,” said Sadler. “I am proud of my guys. It means a lot for them to work as hard as they have been working the last couple weeks to get us in and get us good equipment. I really can’t thank my guys at RPM enough for working as hard as they have the last couple weeks to get us good cars to the race track. I could sit here and say it is me, or this or that, but Todd Parrott is the man. He can do so much as a crew chief. He is good for me from the mental side and we have been qualifying so much better here the last six weeks or so. We have a lot of folks here from Stanley this weekend, so that was a good start. That is a really fast lap for me. I got all I can get out of it.”
Then it was on to the WinStar World Casino 350K in the Camping World Truck Series, where Sadler would start on the front row alongside pole-sitter Matt Crafton. Sadler spent most of the night inside the top 10, and moved from seventh to fifth in the final fifteen laps and came home with a top five finish.
“Just proud of these guys at KHI that gave me another fast truck,” Sadler said after the race, seemingly fighting back tears. “All in all a good weekend for us. A great day today. I’m satisfied with a top five.”
Watching Sadler throughout the day, it was obvious that the weight of the world had been lifted off of his shoulders. From his interviews on pit road to his appearance on SPEED’s Trackside, Sadler expressed nothing but relief and thankfulness for being given a second chance at his racing career.
In fact, Sadler echoed the sentiment several times over the course of the day that his “new life starts today.”
Sadler has struggled mightily in his career, especially recently. Since the beginning of the 2005 season, Sadler has only picked up a total of five top-five finishes, five poles, and hasn’t finished any higher than 22nd in the points.
Now, he’s getting a second chance at success with KHI, albeit at a lower level of racing. However, racing is racin, it’s in Sadler’s blood and this is a step in the right direction.
Sadler is one of the good guys. He’s a driver that most race fans resonate with and he doesn’t seem to have many enemies. He’s got a great sense of humor and is enjoying life as a family man with wife Amanda and baby son Wyatt.
Seeing him succeed would make many race fans happy, and this looks to be a fantastic career move for the amiable Sadler.