Consistent, steady, relentless, and determined, Elliott Sadler has been a staying power in NASCAR for the past 22 years. Certainly, the 43-year-old has evolved from an exciting, young racer hailing from short tracks like South Boston, VA and Myrtle Beach, SC, to a cagey veteran in 2018.
Along the way, Sadler’s made his mark as an efficient racer. Of course, he’s one of only 31 drivers to win in NASCAR’s top three series. However, the pride of Emporia, VA wants to score his biggest on-track prize of all – the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.
While Sadler has evolved from a young stock car star to a perennial, seasoned racer, his passion to succeed has not wavered. Last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway showcased Sadler’s competitiveness. Look no further than his battles with eventual champion William Byron and two-time series race winner Ryan Preece.
Recently, Sadler announced that this season would be his final full-time effort in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. By all means, the Virginian seeks to spend more time with his family. Nevertheless, this stock car stalwart wants to close his full-time efforts in grand style.
Whether it’s unfinished business or completing the search for constant excellence, Sadler is determined to conclude his career as a champion. In fact, I caught up with Sadler to get his take on his career and life in NASCAR. Needless to say, this driver’s determination and grit is prevalent throughout this interview.
Without further ado, let’s get “In the Fast Lane with Elliott Sadler” and catch up with the driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Camaro!
Rob Tiongson : As we approach the conclusion of the regular season, you’re one of the favorites for this year’s championship in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. What do you believe are the keys to your consistency and longevity in this sport over the years?
Elliott Sadler : I believe the key to consistency and success is never losing that drive and passion for the sport. Every day to this day, I have the hunger to compete, to wake up and work out, to study film, and to race for the win. If you have that competitive drive, you’ll work for those strong finishes and it’ll show in your result. Results are what make your career.
Tiongson : Having been one of the young guns in NASCAR during the late 1990’s to one of the leading veteran racers in the XFINITY Series, does your journey feel like a blur? Or, does it feel like an experience where you’ve evolved personally and professionally?
Sadler : My career has definitely been an experience where I have grown personally and professionally. Sure, the last 20 years have flown by. But, those years are filled with unforgettable experiences and I’ve been able to build so many great relationships. I’m very fortunate to have had this long career in NASCAR and to live out my racing dream. I’ve learned just as much off the track as I have on the track, and so much of it I can pass down to my kids as they work to chase their dreams.
Tiongson : Particularly since joining JR Motorsports in 2016, what’s been one of the most valuable advice that you’ve received from Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kelley Earnhardt-Miller?
Sadler : It’s been an incredible experience to work with Dale and Kelley. I admire the way they run their company and treat everyone as family. It’s taught me to do the same, as a coach, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Tiongson : You’ve experienced highs like winning at Darlington two years ago. There’s been some close calls such as this year’s races at Daytona. What’s been your motivation for constant excellence during your career? How do you balance the good and the bad of racing?
Sadler : My family – My mom and dad, my wife Amanda, and my kids – are definitely my motivators. I want to do well for them and everything I do is for them. I also want to do well for my crew guys. They’re working hard to provide for their families and spend just as much time away as I do.
The good and bad of racing is just a part of racing. You’ll have both. You just have to focus on the good and work to build off of it.
Tiongson : NASCAR has truly worked hard with improving its diversity efforts and outreach to younger fans. From your perspective, what are some initiatives or strategies that the sport could adopt to bring in more minorities to the sport as well as engaging new faces at the track?
Sadler : NASCAR has done a great job of engaging new and younger fans through their Kids Drive NASCAR campaign. Allowing kids to attend the races for free is not a bonus for the young fans, but for their parents who others may not be able to afford those additional tickets otherwise.
All sports are continuously working to expand their fan base. NASCAR also has a great diversity program and I think with a little more work there, our fan base will grow in support of those involved. Success breeds success and it’ll keep getting better.
Tiongson : Over the years, Lionel Racing has produced your cars in various offerings. Have you collected some of your replicas? Also, when you see a fan present a car for you to autograph, how pivotal do you feel that connection is between yourself and the fans?
Sadler : I have definitely collected my replica cars over the years and my son, Wyatt is a big diecast collector. Lionel Racing does such a great job and those cars not only represent memories for me, but for my fans too. I enjoying signing diecast of my old cars and talking to the fans about those times. So, yes, I would say those cars connect fans and drivers.
Tiongson : Let’s get off track for a bit. What are some movies, from any era and genre, that you could either recite almost line for line?
Sadler : Wedding Crashers, definitely. Also, it’s not a movie, but I could quote Everybody Loves Raymond all day long. Every night before we go to bed my wife and I watch that show. It’s our thing. It’s a great show and a great way to end the day.
Tiongson : Besides racing stock cars across the country, what’s perhaps one of your most unusual secret talents that may shock fans or even a fellow competitor?
Sadler : I used to be a country line dancer at Coyote Joes in Charlotte.
Tiongson : As a friend of Blake Shelton’s, has there been a time where you’d like to be in his shoes as a guest judge on The Voice or having him sit alongside you in a stock car at a place like Bristol or the roval at Charlotte?
Sadler : Sure. It’s always fun to hang out with friends and support their passion. I certainly don’t know much about singing, but I think I could give a word of advice or two.
Tiongson : If you had the power to change up the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule, what track(s) would you like to see return to the circuit or make their series debut?
Sadler : I would definitely like to see a few local tracks on the circuit. South Boston will always be a favorite track of mine being from Virginia, so that could definitely be a track I would add. Also, Myrtle Beach.
Special thanks to Elliott and JR Motorsports for making this interview possible! It’s been my pleasure to cover part of Elliott’s career over the past decade. For more information on Elliott and his racing efforts, “Like” his Facebook page, “Visit” his team’s official website, and “Follow” him and his team on Twitter now!