A driver that knows what being at the top is like and what being at the bottom is like is Elliot Sadler. He competed in 12 full-time Cup seasons before finding himself without a ride. Being without a ride opened up a new opportunity for Sadler, but it was in the Nationwide Series. There’s nothing wrong with the Nationwide Series, but it was a step down for the Cup veteran. After being in NASCAR’s premiere level for 12 seasons, and then having to take a step back and re-learn a lot of things was definitely not the way Sadler had pictured his career going. Well, after two full-time seasons in the Nationwide Series, Sadler is looking to bring his newly learned knowledge back to the Cup Series.
Sadler’s current Nationwide Series team, Joe Gibbs Racing, has given him a shot at running some Cup races this season. He’ll be competing at Kansas and both Talladega races this season. He has his own sponsor in Alert Energy Gum and this little Cup deal is keeping Sadler alert on the possibilities it could bring.
Performing well in his select Cup races could mean big things down the road for Sadler. His ultimate goal is to be racing on Sunday with the big Cup stars. He has done it before and he knows he wants to be doing it again on a full-time basis. What will he need to do to make it happen again? Run well.
Running well could bring him great options down the road. A top-five performance should be his goal in each Cup race he competes in since a team could look at the top-five from a non-regular and think that he needs to be driving for their team. Many teams will be watching him this weekend and when he races at Talladega, because they believe he could potentially be their next Cup Series driver.
Although Sadler is running for JGR in his Cup races, it’s not likely that they’ll be a team that may offer a full-time Cup ride for him. Why? Well, they have three great Cup drivers on their team now and for years now, they’ve had the opportunity to start up a fourth Cup team and they have never done it. This situation is no different than the previous ones and JGR has made it clear that they’re not interested in having four full-time Cup cars.
If JGR isn’t an option for Sadler for a full-time Cup ride, there are plenty of other teams that are indeed looking for a new full-time driver. All he needs to do is run well when he’s racing on Sunday’s and teams will come knocking at his door. Brian Vickers has been doing this in the Cup Series for a little over a full season now. He received an opportunity with Michael Waltrip Racing to run in the Cup Series last season and each race he runs for them, he makes the most out of it, because he knows a good run could mean teams calling him up about a full-time ride.
A golden chance has shown up for Elliot Sadler and he needs to make the most out of it to potentially return to the Cup Series on a full-time basis. A top-five finish will go a long way for him and just running well could mean bigger things down the road. After stepping back from the Cup circuit for two seasons, he is ready to return and perform well. The newly found appreciation for having a Cup ride he now has could mean great performances in each and every race he competes in. Big things loom for Sadler and the fate of those big things are in Sadler’s hands in the three Cup races he’ll be doing this season.
By Jason Schultz