Elliott Sadler joined NASCAR America from the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday and reflected on his lengthy racing career.
Two topics stood out: recently having passed the 800-start mark in his NASCAR career, as well as the support his parents have given him and how he wants to win the Xfinity championship for them as much as he wants it for himself.
First, on hitting 800:
“Isn’t that crazy? That’s a lot,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like that many. It doesn’t feel like and I don’t look at it like that. I don’t look at it as 800 starts. I still want to feel like I’m young and still enjoying this and looking forward to going to the race track. It’s very humbling to have 800 starts.”
Sadler, who at 42 makes his 810th career start this weekend at Road America, admits that if he knew then what he knows now, he’d have done things differently earlier in his career.
“I took things for granted early in my career,” Sadler said. “I had a great situation at the Wood Brothers that I took for granted at a young age. I had a great situation at Yates Racing, especially with DJ (NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett) as my teammate.
“When you’re that young, you don’t realize how good you’ve got it because you don’t realize how bad it can be. When I got into a situation later in my Cup career and I realized how miserable I was as a driver, now, full circle, I’m in a great company car, I’m very good friends with my owner and feel my team is one of the best teams at the racetrack.
“It makes it fun and I’m not afraid to show how much fun we’re having.”
How much longer will Sadler continue to race?
“I’m not going to put it in years,” he said. “As long as I can stay competitive, have fun, put the work in, watching the videos and staying in shape, I want to win a championship in NASCAR bad. And as long as I feel I can be a contender, I want to race.
“We’re where we need to be on top of the points. Since I’ve been driving for JR Motorsports, we’ve been leading the points after 70 percent of the races. I think that’s a pretty cool stat. We just need to be leading the points after one particular race (the season finale at Miami), and that’s our particular goal.”
And Sadler wants to achieve that goal not just for himself but also his parents.
“I want to do it for my mom and dad,” Sadler said. “They sacrificed so much when I was growing up, to give me the opportunity. To give them that championship would mean more to me than anything I’ve ever done in my life.”