Iowa a sight for sore eyes for Sadler
June 05, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
The timing couldn’t be better for Elliott Sadler.
In four career starts on the 7/8ths-mile track, located in Newton, Sadler has never finished worse than fifth. That initial top-five came in 2011, his first appearance at the facility.
And his results improved each time the series returned to the heartland with finishes of third, second and finally first, winning the U.S. Cellular 250 there last August.
His qualifying record just as impressive, with his last three Iowa starts coming from the pole position.
He’s also completed every lap of all four races in which he has competed.
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"I really feel comfortable going to (Iowa) and being successful"
-- Elliott Sadler
“I know where I want to be on the track, where I need to be on the gas, on the brake, how my car needs to feel in practice to be in the race” said Sadler, driver of the No. 11 One Main Financial Chevrolet fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. “It’s a really good track to me.
“That being said, we need to go there and have a great … weekend. But I can't think of another track on the schedule, coming off the weekend we had at Dover, that I'd rather go to than Iowa. … Because of the record I have there the last two years. I really feel comfortable going to that track and being successful.”
Handling issues confounded the team all weekend at Dover and an early crash during the race sent Sadler in for lengthy repairs. As a result of his 28th-place finish, he fell from fourth to seventh in the points standings.
It was the second time this season the team had dealt with issues -- an engine failure at Bristol led to a 36th-place result.
But Sadler and his team haven’t been the only ones to have the occasional misstep.
After 11 races, it seems nearly everyone has had at least one stumble; only points leader Regan Smith has managed a top-15 result in each race thus far.
The Penske Racing team of Sam Hornish Jr., who led the points through the first seven weeks, seems to have righted itself after Texas and Talladega problems, and Hornish heads to Iowa trailing Smith by 27.
Hornish has one top-five in three starts at Iowa; for Smith, it will be his first time at the track.
“We ran well at Darlington,” Sadler said of his second-place finish at the South Carolina track, “(and) some of the other tracks. Early in the year, we felt really good about that particular setup as far as intermediate tracks were concerned.
“We were caught off guard at Dover. We struggled the entire weekend, through practice, qualifying and the race. We really have dug ourselves a pretty big hole here. We are a lot of points behind. Honestly, points don't mean a hill of beans to me right now. We need to run better, be more competitive on a weekly basis.”
Iowa could be just the place for the team to get itself turned back around.
“We can go there and be competitive and run good,” he said. “That's what our team needs right now, to kind of get back on the ball, get back in the game. I can't think of a better place to go.”