Points leader Sadler looks for more
July 03, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com
Veteran holds points lead over JR Motorsports duo of Chase Elliott and Regan Smith
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It's been a long time coming, but Elliott Sadler is back on top.
Sadler took the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead last weekend at Kentucky, catapulting to the top of the standings for the first time since the fall of 2012, when he entered the race at Phoenix International Raceway tied with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the points lead.
And now, he looks to pad that cushion, a difficult feat considering the site of the Friday night's Subway Firecracker 250 – Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
"Racing at Daytona is always a wild ride," Sadler said. "It really is a wild card track. Some drivers like to be in the back and avoid the early wrecks. While others think if you're up front, all the wrecks will happen behind you.
"Regardless, Daytona and Talladega are the two tracks which one little wrong move can take out half of the field. Earlier this year we had a fast car and battled in the top three spots for the majority of the race. Unfortunately with a few laps remaining, our car was shuffled back and we ended up finishing fifth. Fifth isn't a bad way to start the year, but it's frustrating when you know your car is faster than a fifth-place finish. On the positive note, we can use all our notes from the first race of the season and prepare a fast car for this upcoming weekend. I'm ready to throttle down and hopefully bring home the checkered at DIS to add to our win earlier this season at Talladega."
This is the first time someone outside the JR Motorsports camp has held the points lead; JRM teammates of Regan Smith and Chase Elliott have swapped the top spot over the course of the first 14 races. Now, Joe Gibbs Racing's Sadler is in command; four points ahead of Elliott and eight points ahead of Smith.
Statistically speaking, Sadler could very well expand on that lead this weekend. Not only does he have a win at a restrictor plate track this year (Talladega), but of the top three drivers in points, he has the best pre-race driver rating (98.6) and average finish (13.3) at Daytona.