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Veteran driver has been second in points the last two years. Can a new team change the slump?

 

CONCORD, N.C. -- Elliott Sadler believes he can win the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship in 2013, and not just because the guy who won the last two titles is no longer in the series.

 

It's because he's with a Joe Gibbs Racing team that has a strong Nationwide record as well as one that boasts capable, talented teammates.

 

And it's because Sadler, 37, has finished second the last two years and, quite frankly, he's had enough of being the guy who almost won the title.

 

The JGR organization has "shown in the past the success they can have in the Nationwide Series," Sadler said Jan. 22 during a late-evening stop on the annual Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I really feel like our two teams, myself and Brian (Vickers), are going to be the two cars to beat. I think everybody else knows that, too."

 

Sadler and Vickers are part of a retooled effort for JGR, although Vickers made one start for the team last year.

 

Sadler will pilot the No. 11 One Main Financial Toyota, driven last year by Brian Scott. Vickers will slide into the team's No. 20 entry, one of two entries split among several drivers last season. The team's No. 18 will likely see several drivers behind the wheel.

 

Chris Gayle, senior team engineer for the No. 18 Sprint Cup team with driver Kyle Busch, has been named crew chief for Sadler's team.

 

While his team has been busy building cars, Sadler said he has been able to spend time with his family and enjoy the brief offseason. He has been on the track, testing one of the team's Cup cars Jan. 23.

 

 

 

 

 

"They've just been building cars and getting ready for the upcoming season," Sadler said of his Nationwide effort. "This time of the year, it's all about getting your cars built and ready.

 "That's what I told Chris -- if we need to be in the shop working on cars, let's be in the shop. Let's don't miss days in the shop just to go test. I've been in a car enough in my career to know what I need to do when I get in a race car."

After hitting a difficult stretch of seasons as a Cup driver, Sadler spent 2011 competing in Nationwide for Kevin Harvick Inc. While he failed to win, he did score 12 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes and placed second in points behind champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

The KHI effort was absorbed by Richard Childress Racing prior to 2012, and Sadler responded with four victories and another second-place points finish, once again trailing Stenhouse Jr., while at RCR.

At JGR, Joey Logano won nine times in just 22 starts last year for the organization. In all, JGR drivers have won 77 races in the series, as well as the 2009 driver's title with Kyle Busch.

 "They're tough to beat," Sadler, a nine-time Nationwide winner, said of JGR.  "I really like what I see over there. I know we'll have some stiff competition, but I feel good about Brian and myself as teammates. And I feel good about what we have to offer.

"I think we'll be in good shape."

January 24, 2013  12:28 PM ET

Come on isn't the Nationwide series for young up coming drivers to learn how to race? Who cares about a has been that really does not deserve any ride (with the way he raced the last 2 years with Gillet racing, total disregard for anything but his money). This guy is one minor rung better than Jeremy Methfield.

January 24, 2013  01:32 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Come on isn't the Nationwide series for young up coming drivers to learn how to race? Who cares about a has been that really does not deserve any ride (with the way he raced the last 2 years with Gillet racing, total disregard for anything but his money). This guy is one minor rung better than Jeremy Methfield.

You sir, are an idiot.

January 24, 2013  02:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Come on isn't the Nationwide series for young up coming drivers to learn how to race? Who cares about a has been that really does not deserve any ride (with the way he raced the last 2 years with Gillet racing, total disregard for anything but his money). This guy is one minor rung better than Jeremy Methfield.

Yes, NW is bascially for up and coming new drivers to learn better racing......(it also seems to be the training ground for new owners too)..........BUT newbies competing against newbies will not teach them as much as newbies competing against a good mix of new and cup drivers.......PLUS, they would be in for a major shock when they hit cup level.....not fair to them and not fair to all who have to fund them....however, that is only one issue of it.

As for Sadler, I agree that a seasoned cup driver, making a big deal about winning NW is almost embarrassing......yes, he should be happy, if he takes it, but he needs to remember the skill levels of most of his competition.

Comment #4 has been removed
Comment #5 has been removed
January 24, 2013  06:00 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

As for Sadler, I agree that a seasoned cup driver, making a big deal about winning NW is almost embarrassing......yes, he should be happy, if he takes it, but he needs to remember the skill levels of most of his competition.

That was my point, he actually should be embarrassed that he has let rookies beat him in their little league.
Also I agree a good mix helps younger drivers but seasoned vets should not be allowed to win. Pro's from other sports don't go back and play college games.

January 24, 2013  06:01 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Seems you and Kryle are from the same town. LOLLas Vegas, NV

Never met the guy, but he does make racing more interesting when he's on the track.

January 24, 2013  08:23 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

Never met the guy, but he does make racing more interesting when he's on the track.

Agree.

Comment #9 has been removed
 
January 29, 2013  06:18 PM ET

Sadler is a racer. Good luck to him this season.

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