father-to-be Larson strikes chord with Sadler

July 19, 2014, Brad Norman,

Nationwide veteran shares wisdom ahead of Sprint Cup rookie's big day

JOLIET, Ill. -- They aren't all that similar, the nearly middle-aged man from Virginia and the kid from California.

With 435 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and a history of driving in a NASCAR national series that stretches back to 1995, Elliott Sadler is closer to the end of his racing career than the beginning.

Kyle Larson, meanwhile, is a hotshot rookie that, in 23 career Cup starts, has entrenched his name onto the list of the sport's next wave of superstars.

The differences are more vast than just their racing realities. Sadler is a 6-foot-2 former star athlete, a guy who had multiple scholarship offers to play college basketball. Larson is 5-foot-6 -- in shoes -- and is small enough that he can curl his entire body into a comfortable sleeping position in one airplane seat.

But they will soon have a bond that, like their very differences, extends beyond the track where they both make a living.

Larson will be a father in December. He and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet revealed the gender of their baby last week -- it's a boy. The 21-year-old couldn't contain a wide smile when discussing the reveal party and impending parenthood at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I thought it was really going to be a girl, so I was surprised. But it's exciting," Larson said. "I've been thinking about life with a baby girl, now I have to change it up and think of a life with a baby boy. It'll be exciting, and a lot of fun. It's definitely going to be a life-changing experience, but we're both ready for it."

Sadler has two children, including a 4-year-old son. He was in the media center for interviews directly after Larson and couldn't help but overhear Larson's comments, and their enthusiastic undertones.

"It's neat to listen to him talk about it," Sadler said. "They seem to be very excited about it, and that's awesome. It's hard to explain to people what it's like to have kids until they have some themselves. People told me all the time, but until I heard my son cry for the first time when he was born … it's hard to really put into words what that meant to me as a person. So, good luck to him as a racer and a father. I think he'll be a great dad."