Elliott Sadler, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner, comes from a long line of drivers. As the youngest of Herman and Bell Sadler's three children, Sadler joined a family whose time was spent traveling the short-track circuit of Virginia.
The Sadler family began their involvement in racing nearly 45 years ago. Bud Elliott, Sadler's uncle for which he was named, and father Herman Sadler, along with their brothers, raced on the short tracks of Virginia long before the young Sadler was born. It was here where, just as his father and uncle before him, Sadler received his training on the short tracks of his home state.
Climbing behind the wheel of his first go-kart at age seven, Sadler captured over 200 victories before moving on to the heavier stock cars. At the age of 18, Sadler joined the ranks of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, claiming a track championship title at South Boston Speedway in 1995. His success served as a stepping-stone to the NASCAR Nationwide Series when he caught the eye of team owner Gary Bechtel. Bechtel tabbed the young driver to pilot his car in a full-season Nationwide Series effort in 1997.
Sadler wasted no time in proving his ability. The rookie driver captured the pole for the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway. Thirteen starts are all Sadler would need to capture his first career Nationwide Series win at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway. Sadler rounded out his rookie year with three more poles and victories at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Gateway International Raceway. He finished the year an impressive fifth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Sadler scored two more Nationwide Series wins in 1998 (Bristol Motor Speedway and North Carolina Speedway), in what would be his final season as a full-time Nationwide Series driver.
In 1999, the legendary Wood Brothers, also native to Virginia, looked no further than their own backyard to find the driver for their No. 21 entry and signed Sadler to his first full-time NASCAR Cup Series ride. Their first victory together came in 2001 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Sadler's 75th career start. The win in "Thunder Valley" was monumental for two reasons. First, Sadler started deep in the field in the 38th spot. More importantly, it returned the Wood Brothers to victory lane for the first time since 1993.
After four seasons, Sadler and the Wood Brothers parted ways and the Virginia native headed for Robert Yates Racing (RYR). Sadler had two Bud Poles (Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway) in 2003 with his No. 38 team. He completed the year with two top-five and nine top-10 finishes which earned him a 22nd-place finish in the season point standings. Energy was infused into Sadler's team with personnel changes during the off-season, setting the stage for Sadler's most successful season to date.
His 2004 season proved to be a breakout one as the Virginia native surprised many in the garage area. Sadler struck early at the season opening event as Daytona International Speedway by winning the outside pole for the Daytona 500. Later in Speedweek, he won in the Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying event that gave primary sponsor M&M's their first ever trip to Victory Lane.
Success was sweet and continued throughout the season as Sadler saw more of the same with an emotional win at Texas Motor Speedway. Later in the season Sadler scored his third career victory at California Speedway, clinching a position in the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship. Sadler was one of four drivers to stay in the top 10 in the point standings the entire season and rounded out the year with two wins, eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. He finished ninth in the final standings.
In 2005, Sadler was strong out of the gate. He stayed in the top five in the point standings throughout the first half of the season. However, late season difficulties plagued the No. 38 team as they narrowly missed qualifying for their second Chase for the Championship. Sadler was 11th in points after the cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway in September. Still, there were several highlights for Sadler in 2005 as he clinched four pole positions including the starting spot at the prestigious Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After three-and-a-half seasons with Robert Yates Racing, Sadler joined forces with Gillett Evernham Motorsports as the driver of the No. 19 entry. He took the wheel of his new ride at Michigan in August of 2006 for the final 14 races with his new team posting two top-10 finishes.
In 2007, Sadler led 62 laps, posted two top-10 finishes and finished 25th in points. He finished a season best sixth at the Daytona 500. Sadler went longer than any other driver before failing to finish a race in 2007. The 2008 season saw several highlights including a fifth-place finish at New Hampshire and a fourth-place finish at Indianapolis while leading 21 laps during the season.
In 2009, Gillett Evernham Motorsports teamed up with Petty Enterprise to create Richard Petty Motorsports. Joining Sadler were teammates Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson. Sadler closed out the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season with one top five and five top-10 finishes.
Entering the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season, Richard Petty Motorsports will make the change to Ford Racing. After merging with Yates Racing during the offseason, Paul Menard will replace Sorenson as Sadler’s new teammate. Along with the change to Ford Fusions, the Richard Petty Motorsports shop will move to Concord, N.C.
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