Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Elliott Sadler is by far the favorite to capture the Nationwide Series Championship in 2013. In fact, Sadler has progressed so well since entering the series in 2011 that he should be able to win the championship convincingly. In both 2011 and 2012, Sadler ran great seasons but was plagued with enough bad luck and mechanical failure to allow Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to repeat as champion.
2013 ushers in a new era for Sadler’s career. Now solidified with the constraints of the Nationwide Series car, and with Stenhouse Jr. advancing to The Sprint Cup ranks, Sadler is by far the prominent driver in the series.
In addition to the departure of Stenhouse, Sadler himself has only become surrounded by even an even better program. Switching from Richard Childress Racing to the much more talented and committed Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs is looking solid not only on The Sprint Cup side, but their Nationwide Series program has evolved into a top-tier team.
Sadler’s teammate will be none other than Brian Vickers, a driver who has found himself in the same position as Sadler. Both drivers are established veterans of The Sprint Cup Series, whose struggles have resulted in their inability to procure a competitive full time Sprint Cup ride.
Together, and with the technical support that Gibbs and Toyota Racing Development provides, Sadler should continue to grow and can be expected to be seen in victory lane at least five times in 2013. Simply put, there is not enough competition currently to make for a truly captivating championship fight this year. Much like last year, barring a wreck or mechanical failure, someone with the pure driving talent and race management skills of Sadler can still end up with a top twenty finish. Heck, his average finish in Nationwide competition since 2011 has been 8.7.
For Sadler, even if he can pull together a championship season, he will not be satisfied. The end of this process will come when Sadler ends up back in Sprint Cup competition in a competitive car. Despite turning 38 in 2013, there is still plenty of potential left in the tank for the veteran driver, and he is still an attractive option should he choose to re-enter the Sprint Cup fray. However, all that is speculative. For now, all we know is that without a doubt, Elliott Sadler is the favorite for the Nationwide series crown in 2013.
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