Auto Racing: Elliott Sadler looks for happy Nationwide Series ending
By Tina Akouris firstname.lastname@example.org September 13, 2012 8:56PM
Elliott Sadler holds the points lead in the NASCAR Natiowide Series entering Saturday's race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. | AP photo
Nascar race weekend
At Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet
Gates open, 11 a.m.
Sprint Cup practice, noon
Nationwide practice, 1:40 p.m.
Final Cup practice, 3 p.m.
Final Nationwide practice, 4:40 p.m.
Gates open, 9 a.m.
Nationwide qualifying, 11:05 a.m.
Sprint Cup qualifying, 12:40 a.m.
Dollar General 300, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Gates open, 9 a.m.
GEICO 400, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Tickets: Call (888) 629-7223
Updated: October 15, 2012 9:39AM
Elliott Sadler may be leaving Richard Childress Racing at season’s end, but Sadler isn’t a lame duck and wants nothing more than to give his owner a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship as a parting gift.
Sadler will need to pad his NNS points lead when he races his No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet in Saturday’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.
If Sadler wins, he will have swept both NNS races at Joliet this year after battling a severe stomach virus to win the STP 300 in July.
“We are bringing the same car back that we won with in July at the track,” Sadler said. “I know that (our) team is hungry to get back to Victory Lane, and we are going to do everything we can to get there.”
Sadler announced earlier this month that he’s leaving RCR but did not give a reason for the move. Sadler, who runs a full-time NNS schedule, is reported to be looking for a team that will enable him to run a full NNS slate and a part-time one in the Sprint Cup series.
Despite four victories, Sadler is leading the standings by only a point over defending NNS champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse, though, would like to cement his NNS career with another championship, since he is bolting for Sprint Cup in 2013 and will drive for Roush-Fenway Racing.
Sadler’s main competition isn’t just going to be Stenhouse, who led 135 laps during the July race yet lost the race on a restart with five laps remaining. Sadler also has to watch out for his own teammate, Austin Dillon.
Dillon is third in the standings, 30 points behind Sadler, and is a candidate for the Nationwide Rookie of the Year award. Dillon, Richard Childress’ grandson, is leading the rookie standings ahead of Cole Whitt.
Dillon has become NASCAR’s newest star with 12 top-five finishes and 19 in the top 10. That has fueled speculation as to when he will jump over to the Cup series. Dillon has maintained he isn’t in a hurry to leave just yet, and wants to get more victories than just his win at Kentucky.
Dillon has proved he can master Chicagoland. He started the STP 300 from the second position, ran up front for most of the race and ended up sixth.
This time around, Dillon has a new No. 3 Chevrolet that will be driven for the first time.
“I think we’re sitting in a great spot right now, so while there is pressure we have a lot to look forward to,” Dillon said. “As a rookie team, we have accomplished so much this year. Anything from this point on is just going to be a bonus.
“We want to run up front each and every week,” Dillon said. “We want to be in the top three and we want to compete with the Cup guys who come race in the Nationwide Series.”