A year ago, Elliott Sadler faced the question of whether he needed to win a NASCAR championship. Having been in the sport since 1995, and with four second-place point finishes in the Xfinity Series, did Sadler feel he had to push over the hump before his career was over?
The JR Motorsports veteran said he certainly wanted to win a title, both for himself and his parents, and Sadler admitted he would feel empty if he didn’t do that before his career was over.
The end game is now looming. Sadler announced Wednesday he would step away after this season.
Sitting second in points with five races to go in the regular season, Sadler looks to be safe to make the postseason again. There are 12 races left in the year before Sadler then becomes a full-time dad.
So how does Sadler feel now about chasing that elusive title now that he knows the end is in sight?
“I definitely want to win a championship,” Sadler said. “That’s what I have strived for my whole career, is to a win championship in NASCAR. And man, have we come close. I’m not going to bore you with all the stats or whatever that shows. But I felt like I have put my best foot forward, and we’re trying to do that again, and that’s why I wanted to make this [news] known earlier rather than later so when it gets playoff time we can focus on the playoffs.
“So, if we don’t win a championship, yes, it’ll bother me. It’ll be some sleepless nights over that, but I feel like I have pursued my dream long enough.”
Sadler became emotional in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center during the times when he talked about his children. Son Wyatt is 8 and daughter Austyn is 6, both of which are the reason Sadler wants to give up the steering wheel. Both of his children are active in sports, such as travel ball leagues and Sadler loves being a coach.
The reason in which Sadler said his news was phrased the way it was – that he wouldn’t be racing full-time – is that he is leaving open the door to running races again. But only if JRM calls him, and Sadler said it couldn’t be during the busy ball season of summer with the kids.
“I almost feel selfish the last couple years that it’s about pursuing my dreams, it’s about me racing to win races or win championships when I have two kids that are thoroughly involved in different things in their life, and I think I’ve been selfish long enough,” Sadler said.
“One final push for a championship, but I want to help them pursue their dreams. Win, lose or draw we’re [the No. 1 team] going to put our best effort forward, but it’s more important to me to be involved in what they’re doing and being a part of their life right now to achieve their dreams than it is to keep pursuing my own.
“I’ve given myself enough time to try and win a championship. Now it’s time to put my dad hat on and help them.”
Sadler has 17 career wins across NASCAR’s three series, with his last Xfinity Series victory coming at Kentucky in 2016. He has never won a national series championship, finishing sixth or better in the Xfinity Series points the last seven years.