Sadler braces for final start of NASCAR career

Image by Kinrade/LAT

Sadler braces for final start of NASCAR career

NASCAR

Sadler braces for final start of NASCAR career

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Elliott Sadler made his final full-time NASCAR start last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but Saturday afternoon will be his final start ever.

It comes behind the wheel of the No. 10 for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sadler has made limited starts for the team this season with sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions, who will again be on the car this weekend but not with its standard colors. Kaulig has designed the car to look like Sadler’s very first race car, which was a late model.

“(At) Homestead I kind of knew that I had a good possibility of running a few races this year with my new relationship with Nutrien and what they were wanting to do,” Sadler said. “This (race) definitely has a different feel because this 100 percent is it. Unless you’re visiting Emporia, Virginia, won’t see me around anymore.

“But I honestly feel good about it. No mixed emotions really, other than just maybe the competitive side after I take my helmet off the last time, but I feel really good about this weekend. I definitely feel like it’s the right time to close the book and move onto the next chapter of my life. … Really relaxed.”

With over 20 years in NASCAR filled with memories and friends made throughout, Sadler isn’t leaving with sadness. Additionally, he’s pleased to be able to call it quits on his own terms. Until this year, Sadler spent eight full seasons in the Xfinity Series, most recently competing with JR Motorsports.

“This was decided probably about last October or November,” Sadler said of Vegas being his final race. “So, I’ve known this day was coming for a long time and this particular weekend. I’ve been staying away from it. I’ve been keeping myself busy. I’ve got a lot going on at home. So, I’ve been staying away from just sitting and thinking about it, but this week’s been kind of tough with everything we’ve had going on. Sharing more memories than anything has been the funniest part.”

With this weekend, Sadler will retire having made 855 national series starts. Given what Saturday represents, the end result doesn’t matter.

“No, not to me,” Sadler said. “As long as I finish in one piece and crack a beer on pit road with my buddies, then I’m good. I have a feeling when I get in the car the competitive juices will start going, and I’ll start wanting the car to drive a certain way, or I’ve asked Chris (Rice) if we have any kind of pit strategy that will put us up with the chance, let’s do it. I don’t care if we run out of gas with five laps to go, who cares, let’s try it. Our sponsors deserve that, and Matt Kaulig, of course, deserves that.

“So, we’re just going to go out and have a good time and see what it gives us, but I’m not going to let one race define me or my career on how we run this weekend.”

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