Elliott Sadler has trophies on his mantel from victories in NASCAR's three top-tier national series, including a boot trophy from one of his three career Sprint Cup Series wins coming in the 2004 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. However, the one item missing is a NASCAR championship trophy.
Sadler is as close as he has ever been to winning a NASCAR championship in his 17-year career. He holds a six-point advantage over challenger and defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. heading into Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, which is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. With three races remaining, Sadler is determined to win his first championship.
"To be in this situation and position that I'm in right now, I can't ask for anything better," Sadler said. "Anybody who races, your number one goal is to try to be a champion. I've been able to be a champion in a lot of different things growing up and in a lot of different styles of racing, but I'm not a champion at the NASCAR top-three series level. That's definitely something that I want to become. For me and my family to be able to share that would definitely be a dream come true."
For Sadler to realize his dream he must first conquer Texas Motor Speedway, a track that he has excelled at during his career. He owns five top-10 finishes in his nine career Nationwide Series starts, including three of those among the top five. Sadler, whose best NNS finish at Texas is second in 1998, finished 12th in his most recent visit in April. He also is the defending polesitter of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
"It's going to be a tough battle all the way to the end," Sadler said. "We feel good about the tracks that we got left. Stenhouse Jr. always runs good at Texas, so we know we are going to have to show up there with our guns loaded to be competitive and run up front. I think all of the races will count, but we definitely look at Texas Motor Speedway as a strong spot for us."