Can Sadler deliver at Darlington?
April 10, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com
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As the only full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series driver in Joe Gibbs Racing's stable, Elliott Sadler has high expectations for Friday night's VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2) at Darlington Raceway.
Although he's never won at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval, his best result came last season when he finished runner-up to JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who started on the pole. Starting position is of the utmost importance at a track like Darlington Raceway where the narrow straightaways and tight turns place a premium on passing.
"If there's anywhere qualifying will be important it's definitely here this weekend," said Sadler, who sits fourth in the standings, 16 points behind leader Chase Elliott. "It's a short race. There's no time for mistakes."
Thirteen Nationwide races at the track have been won from the pole, more than any other spot on the starting grid. Five of the last eight races have been won from the pole, all by Sadler's JGR teammates. In all, seven of the last eight races have been won by JGR drivers: Denny Hamlin (three), Kyle Busch (two), Tony Stewart (one) and Joey Logano (one).
Current JGR driver Matt Kenseth won the eighth race while driving for Roush Fenway Racing. He also won the race immediately prior to the seven-of-eight stretch.
Kenseth and Busch will join Sadler in JGR's three entries Friday night at Darlington, where Sadler hopes to continue the trend and become the next JGR driver to visit Victory Lane.