Elliott Sadler retired from full-time racing last year; Now, his 855th NASCAR start will be his last
Elliott Sadler returns for one last ride
Last year, Elliott Sadler left his full-time ride with JR Motorsports. After 21 years of chasing race tracks, Sadler moved on to family life.
At Homestead in 2018, Sadler thought it was his last race. He finished 14th.
He returned earlier this year at Richmond Raceway, finishing 12th. He ran the No. 10 for Kaulig Racing.
This weekend, NASCAR heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sadler will once again climb behind the wheel of the No. 10 machine. It will be his final NASCAR race.
“One hundred percent sure this is the last time I’ll ever put a helmet on,” Elliott Sadler told NBC Sports. “It definitely has a different feel to it than what we had at Homestead.”
The upcoming race at LVMS will mark Sadler’s 855 career NASCAR start across all three of the National Touring Series divisions.
“That’s a lot isn’t it?” Sadler laugh.
“That’s too many. Look, I’m very fortunate. That’s a mind-boggling stat. 855 starts from a little, small-town boy in Emporia, Virginia. That’s a lot of time to strap on a helmet to go racing.”
Elliott Sadler throwback
Sadler is now 44-years-old. Last year, he wanted to run a throwback scheme at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, sponsorship agreements wouldn’t allow it.
“I begged my sponsors last year at Homestead to let me run that paint scheme. But it wasn’t meant to be,” Sadler said of the 2018 race.
This time, Sadler will be allowed to run the throwback he desired. It’s his old late model paint scheme that was seen on the Virginia short tracks.
The original car was seen in the early 90’s, before he made the step to NASCAR. Nutrien Ag Solutions has allowed that to happen.
“For them [the sponsor] to give up a paint scheme to let me do it means a lot,” Sadler says.
Sadler wasn’t aware that he’d be able to run the scheme this weekend. The team surprised him with the design on Monday.
“(It’s) a paint scheme that is very near and dear to my family. All of my dad’s gas stations and transport trucks and everything are painted the exact same way. So it’s a color that means a lot to us.”
“For (team president) Chris Rice and (team owner) Matt (Kaulig) and those guys, everybody at Nutrien Ag Solutions to let us go out with that color. That’s pretty special.”
To Sadler, Chris Rice is more than the team principal at Kaulig Racing. In 1992, Rice became the late model crew chief on Sadler’s late model ride.
The two remained together through the rise through the ranks. Together, they claimed a track championship at the short track of South Boston Speedway.
“Chris and I kind of pretty much started living together in 1994,” Sadler said. “Then in 1995, we got our breakout season, setting all kinds of records in the late model stock-car world in Southern Virginia.”
“We got a special relationship. I think we helped each other a lot in getting our careers to where they are today. I think we have a lot to be thankful for and it’s pretty cool for it to come full circle to where we first started.”