As NASCAR drivers get toward the end of their careers, what is most important to the driver? Is it running for a championship, winning races, being with a top notch team – all of which could possibly allow the driver to ride into the sunset, retirement, in a positive way. Or, is it being out on the track, running at the back of the pack with a lower tier team, just to be racing.
It is a little of both. The competitive nature of a driver wants to be on the track, running up front and trying to win that last race, or championship, before retirement, while the love of the sport shines through when taking the ride to just be racing.
But, if there was a true preference, it is running up front contending each week. The driver has to do what is best for them and their family. Which is why news of Elliott Sadler’s plans for 2016 does not seem to come as that much of a surprise.
Sadler currently is running for Roush-Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Although he has four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes this year, over 19 races, and sits fifth in the point standings, it is evident that this driver wants to be with a top notch team to contend toward the end of his career.
I am not saying Roush-Fenway Racing is not a top notch team, I am just saying the results Sadler has posted this year do not seem to be pleasing to where he wants to be as a driver. He wants to run upfront on a consistent basis and have a top-five finish in every race. The news of him switching to JR Motorsports and bringing his sponsor, OneMain Financial, with him is not a surprise and a great move for him.
JR Motorsports runs at the front of the field each week and is the team in the Xfinity Series that is home to the defending series champion in Chase Elliott. Although nothing has been confirmed, the move is a natural fit. Elliott is moving to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year under the Hendrick Motorsports blanket, taking the place of retiring champion Jeff Gordon, which essentially opens up a seat for Sadler.
The model is there with JR Motorsports, giving Sadler to once again show his skill and be able to challenge for wins on a consistent basis. Sadler will have a chance to add to his 10 wins and 16 poles in 282 Xfinity starts over his career on a consistent basis.
Although a Roush-Fenway Racing would not confirm, or deny, the report, it seems as if Roush-Fenway Racing has done this a lot lately in both the Sprint and Xfinity Series with their drivers moving to another team. So where does this leave Roush-Fenway Racing? Essentially looking for another driver and sponsor, without dropping a team.
For Sadler, a great opportunity to run for another championship as his career winds down and bring the trophy to JR Motorsports at the end of 2016.
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