Elliott Sadler: “I’d say tonight is the most down n’ out I’ve ever felt in my career.”
Elliott Sadler made 1,131 quality passes in 2017. That’s about 125 more than any driver in the Xfinity field. He also spent 5,457 laps inside the top 15, about 450 than anyone in the field. Despite those numbers, he comes up 2nd in the Xfinity championship, again.
He nearly got it. Elliott Sadler was leading William Byron in the closing laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, Sadler caught Xfinity newcomer Ryan Preece. It was a race for position but dirty air and a pinch off turn turn 2 was enough to open the door for William Byron.
Sadler and Preece were involved in a confrontation on pit lane after the race. “He cost us a championship and he’s not even racing anybody,” Sadler told NBC Sports shortly after the pit lane altercation.
Ryan Preece said he was following team orders to race the championship contenders hard. Joe Gibbs Racing was in a car owner battle. A battle that was won by Team Penske when the checkered flag dropped.
Does Elliott Sadler accept that response?
“No he wasn’t because the #22 was a half a lap ahead of him,” Elliott Sadler told reporters from the Homestead-Miami Speedway media center. “He wasn’t racing anybody.”
Do you think you could have passed William without Preece getting in the way?
“No, track position is everything,” Elliott Sadler responded. “We were in the right position when I was 8 to 10 car lengths ahead of William.”
“As long as you hold your line and keep your momentum up. There’s no way he could have passed me.”
“The #18 pinched me off so bad off of turn 2. William got that run and cleared me into 3. I knew it was pretty much over with there.”
Another 2nd place in the standings
Elliott Sadler has finished 2nd in the NASCAR Xfinity Series 4 time. He did it in 2011, 2012, 2016 and again in 2017. In 2013, he finished 3rd.
“4 out of the last 6 years, we finished 2nd in the points. Tonight is the closest I’ve ever been to winning a championship. I mean, having the lead against the #9. The race is in my hands to win the championship.”
“We’ve been running behind the #18 for 10 laps. I dove down into turn 1, I thought he was going to give it to me. I was gunna slide up in front of him and he just gassed it, pinched me down. That was it.”
“That’s pretty hard to swallow. I’ve been racing a long time. I’d say tonight is the most devastating and down n’ out I’ve ever felt in my career.”
Elliott Sadler has run 362 NASCAR Xfinity Series races. He’s collected 13 wins, 95 top 5’s and 202 top 10’s.
Sadler didn’t pick up any wins in 2017. However, he led 123 laps. That’s the exact same number of laps he led last year, when he won 3 races.
JR Motorsports finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings. His teammate, William Byron, claimed his first series title.