Sadler believes he can win Nationwide title at RCR
RICHMOND, Va. (AP)
Elliott Sadler confirmed Friday he will not be returning to Richard Childress Racing next season.
The Nationwide Series points leader doesn't think his impending departure will hurt his chances at winning the championship this year.
''I think it's going to be pretty easy to stay focused,'' Sadler said at Richmond International Raceway. ''It's not every day that you get a chance to win a championship. Me and my guys are very focused - a lot of guys on my race team have never won a championship. I've never won a championship in NASCAR's top three levels.
''Even though it looks like I will not be a part of RCR next year, I think to be in this situation we are in, in the points battle we are in, and having the success we are having, I think it's going to be pretty easy to stay focused.''
Sadler headed into Friday night's Nationwide race at Richmond with a 12-point lead over defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with nine races left in the season. He shed little insight into why he's leaving RCR, which bought out Kevin Harvick Inc. last year and inherited Sadler in the deal.
He is teammates with Austin Dillon, Childress' grandson, and Ty Dillon is waiting in the Truck Series for an eventual promotion to Nationwide. The future of RCR clearly rests with the Dillon brothers, but Sadler did not cite any specific reason for the pending split.
''I just think sometimes circumstances, the stars don't always line up,'' he said. ''I don't think it's a big deal, we're just not going to be able to race for those guys next year.''
Sadler insisted he has no deal locked up yet for next year, has no sponsor to shop around, and is exploring both Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series rides. But he is believed to be close to a deal to drive one of the Nationwide entries at Joe Gibbs Racing next season.
He credited Childress for salvaging his career after a rough stretch with Richard Petty Motorsports. He was winless in six consecutive seasons and dropped each year in the standings - from ninth in 2004 to 27th in 2010, his last year under contract.
Harvick hired him for the Nationwide Series, and Sadler challenged last year for the title despite going winless. Now he's under Childress' umbrella, and has four victories this season. It's given him options for next year.
''It's been a tough last four, five years, different things I've been through; this is not tough at all,'' he said. ''I've been through way worse situations with race teams. Right now I feel pretty good. Great equipment, good race team, fast race cars. It's tough when the phone's not ringing. When I went through the stuff I went through at RPM and you're calling everybody and no one will call you back, that's way tougher.
''It's a lot different now when you're having different dialogue with different teams and you're sharing a lot of information on what the future holds, different opportunities. Hopefully we can find the right situation that's good for me.''