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Elliott Sadler’s disappointing end to 2017 drives him forward

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For Elliott Sadler, “there’s nothing to say” about how his 2017 Xfinity season ended.

He had no interest in addressing how he was raced in the late stages at Homestead-Miami Speedway by Ryan Preece, and how it resulted in his No. 1 Chevrolet damaged and Sadler unable to win his first NASCAR championship.

The accident with 10 laps to go in the championship race came as Sadler tried to hold off his JR Motorsports teammate, William Byron. Whoever led the other at the checkered flag would be the champion.

Byron went on to to win. Sadler finished with his second runner-up finish in the Xfinity standings.

On that November night, Sadler called it the “most devastating and down and out” he’d ever felt in his NASCAR career, which began in 1995 in the Xfinity Series.

But two months later, there’s nothing to say.

On second thought…

“When you catch somebody like that, we had just made the pass on William and we’re pulling away and we’re less than 10 laps to go and you’re absolutely racing for nothing at all,” Sadler said last week during the NASCAR Media Tour. “Your owner’s championship guy is half a mile, half a lap ahead of you, (Team Penske’s) Sam Hornish (Jr.). Why not give the respect? The respect is due. We had earned that right I had felt like and I thought. That’s why it hurts so bad.”

It’s why the 42-year-old driver for JR Motorsports engaged in a shouting match with Preece on pit road after the race

It’s also why Sadler keeps coming back for more.

“I’ve been asked that question a few times this offseason. It’s motivation,” Sadler said.

A 17-time winner in NASCAR’s three national series, Sadler had his future on his mind two weeks ago when he visited with Dale Jarrett after the Hall of Fame induction.

Sadler asked his former Robert Yates Racing teammate and mentor when he knew it was time to retire.

“What kept you going when you were in the middle of it and what told you maybe it was time to step away?” Sadler asked.

“The biggest thing he and I kind of came to the conclusion of is, I’m still motivated every day. I still like going to the gym, I still like working out. I still like watching film of races. I still like studying what’s going on. That’s still in my mind.”

After 820 NASCAR starts, the sport still makes Sadler mad.

“I take it personal when stuff goes my way or doesn’t go my way,” Sadler said. “I still feel that. I don’t brush it off. Just like what happened after Homestead. That to me is telling me I still want to do it. I still have the drive. When I get to the day where I’m, (sighs) ‘We got to go where this weekend?’ You know what I’m saying to that extent, it’s time for me to do something else. Right now, I don’t have that.”

But Jarrett, who retired from NASCAR racing in 2008, told him he would know when his time was up.

“You will (know) when you’re ready to go to Daytona or you’re like, ‘I got to go to Daytona this weekend,'” Sadler said. “There’s a big difference in mindset. But right now when hunting season is over with and I know I’ve got six weeks to really get mentally and physically tough and ready for the season, was I going to feel like doing it or not? So far, yes.”

Once the season begins on Feb. 17 in Daytona, Sadler can look forward to at least 10 races where he’ll get a chance to compete against Preece. The 27-year-old driver will race part-time with JGR.

“He better not get anywhere near me,” Sadler let reporters know.

“That’s all I want to say.”

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Brad Keselowski wins pole for New Hampshire Xfinity race

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Brad Keselowski will start first in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski claimed the pole for the Lakes Region 200 (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a speed of 130.296 mph.

It’s his second pole in three starts this season and his fifth pole in 10 starts at the 1-mile track.

Keselowski is trying to win his fourth straight Xfinity race.

The Team Penske driver will be joined on the front row by Christopher Bell (130.126 mph).

The top five is completed by Ryan Preece, Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek.

Ryan Truex, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala, Jeremy Clements, Michael Annett and Ross Chastain did not advance out of the second round.

During the first round the red flag came out with 6:25 left due to fluid on the track from Ryan Reed‘s No. 16 Ford.

Reed will start last.

Click here for qualifying results.

 

Today’s Xfinity race at New Hampshire: Start time, lineup and more

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Last year, Ryan Preece finished second to Kyle Busch in this race. Preece takes over the car that beat him last year and hopes to improve by one position. He’ll have to beat Cup regulars Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon to do so.

Here’s all the info for today’s Xfinity race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (211.6 miles) around the 1.05-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7 a.m. Qualifying is at 11:05 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Boston Sports Team Vocalist John Robert Murphy will perform the anthem at 4:01 p.m. The Canadian National Anthem will be performed by Jodie Cunningham at 3:58 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 78 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch beat his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Ryan Preece by more than 10 seconds. William Byron came home third, with Cup regulars Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Start time of Sunday’s Cup race moved up to 1 pm ET

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LOUDON, N.H. – The start time for Sunday’s Cup race has been moved up to 1 p.m. ET because of the threat of rain, NASCAR announced.

NBCSN will broadcast the race. NBCSN’s coverage begins at noon ET.

The wunderground.com forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday calls for a 49 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. There is a threat of rain throughout the day.

Kurt Busch won the pole for Sunday’s race.