Nationwide series leader expects better result in return to Nashville

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 11:05pm
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Elliott Sadler (Courtesy Getty Images)

One of the reasons that Elliott Sadler leads the NASCAR Nationwide Series in points is that he has finished every race thus far in 2011. He is the only one of the top 42 drivers without a DNF.

That does not mean he has finished well every time out.

For example, Sadler is looking to do much better Saturday at the Nashville Superspeedway than he did back in April, when he finished 13th in the first of the track’s two annual Nationwide races.

By virtue of his place at the head of the standings, where he has been for much of the season, he is one of the headliners for the Federated Auto Parts 300 (6:30 p.m., ESPN). He also will drive in Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series event, the Lucas Deep Clean 200 (7 p.m., Speed).

“We're looking forward to going back this weekend and running a lot better than we did the first time,” Sadler said in a Tuesday conference call. “It was a great wake-up call to our race team.

“We are definitely prepared and better understand what we want out of these cars than we were the first time going to Nashville. That was my first time racing at night at that track.”

Sadler is racing a full-time Nationwide schedule for the first time in more than a decade, and he is doing so in a car owned by Kevin Harvick Inc., which reintensified its series efforts this year after five years of part-time work and a pair of truck series championships.

Despite that relative inexperience, Sadler’s consistency has shown up in more than just his ability to be running at the finish. His average starting position (8.9) is identical to his average finish (8.9).

He has yet to win a race in 2011, though, which means there is room for improvement everywhere he goes throughout the second half of the season.

“Going back to these tracks for the second time, we feel very confident about what we need to do,” Sadler said. “… Halfway through the season, we're leading the points. Some races we run very good at; some races we've thrown away and did not run good at. We have to take all the positives we can.

“… We feel very confident and pretty good about this weekend going back to Nashville.  It's a fun place to race, one of the most exciting trophies in the whole sport with winning the Gibson guitar.  We'll definitely have that on our mind when we show up this weekend.”