For the last two years, Elliott Sadler has solidified himself as one of the best running for a championship in the XFINITY Series. However, he has yet to capture his first title.
Now one might think after the constant disappointment of coming up short, Sadler might suffer a slump on-track because of it. After all, he has had some of his best years and still, nothing. Meanwhile, the drivers that have defeated him have gone on to occupy rides with the best teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
With all that in mind, who would be able to continue to keep their head up and do so at a high level after such struggles and let downs?
Throughout the first 11 races in the 2018 season, he has nine top-fives (on pace to surpass his career-best 15 in a year) with five in the last five events and has yet to finish outside the top-10, something nobody else in the sport can claim. The 43-year-old owns a 48-point lead and has cemented himself as the early championship favorite.
You could state that Sadler has not gotten enough recognition for his stride. Despite all the adversity that surrounds him, he has proven to be one of the most positively consistent drivers around.
However, his underratedness can also be defended.
He has been good, but great? While the No. 1 team has been successful so far, there is still a lot they can do to be better.
For example, he needs to win.
Since 2013, Sadler has only won four times. His last coming in 2016. That’s not exactly a positive considering stand-alone races, he’s got more experience than his competitors, is with a team that has won two championships in that span (JR Motorsports), and the increased rules limiting Cup participation.
During this year’s Dash 4 Cash four-race program, not only was he never victorious, and because of that his team never seemed to be the biggest threats around. They only qualified in the top-five for half of the races (zero poles) and, did not lead the most laps at any point.
That is something that needs to change ASAP, before the playoffs. If they can win a race (stand-alone, not stand-alone, doesn’t matter) that would be huge for their momentum because with Sadler’s proven consistency, that could be enough to trigger a run equally as impressive as his current stat line heading into September.
We still have yet to reach the halfway point, but this could be what decides the fate of the season. No regular has multiple wins so far, so if Sadler can step up it may be enough to win the title; if not, his consistency may be overshadowed by a JR Motorsports teammate or fellow young driver yet again.
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