It’s been since February of 2012 that Elliott Sadler stepped behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. That day, he ruined Jimmie Johnson’s as well as Danica Patrick‘s hopes of winning the Daytona 500 on the first lap of the race. Sadler slightly slipped into Johnson which caused a multi-car wreck. Sadler ended up experiencing his own troubles as he had mechanical issues throughout his return to NASCAR’s biggest event.
After totaling 430 starts in NASCAR’s top tier series, Sadler dropped back to the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Joe Gibbs Racing picked Sadler up for the 2013 season and is giving him the chance to redeem himself at the sport’s highest level. Though Sadler has had as much early success with Joe Gibbs Racing as he would’ve liked, he’s still seventh in points and would be in the top-three if he hadn’t experienced engine woes in two events.
Joe Gibbs is known as a man who gives drivers chances to revive their careers, and that’s his ultimate goal with Sadler. Sadler hasn’t raced at a mile and a half track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since his final race with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway where he finished 28th and concluded the worst chapter of his racing career.
Now, Sadler will be behind the wheel of a fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car for the team and will definitely attempt to prove that he’s capable of racing at NASCAR’s top level once again. This weekend, Sadler will be racing with his NASCAR Nationwide Series crew led by Chris Gayle. It’s taking a while, but the two are slowly gaining momentum and should be contenders this weekend with the help of Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyota equipment.
The opportunity is the first of three for Sadler this season. He will be piloting the No. 81 Alert Energy Gum Toyota Camry this weekend at the Kansas Speedway as well as both Talladega Superspeedway races. Sadler has had success at Kansas before where he has three top-10s in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and a third and fourth place finish in the past two years in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Expect to see Sadler in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car on a full-time basis, even if he doesn’t win the Nationwide Series championship as long as he impresses sponsors at the greatest level of stock car racing. Sadler is determined to make it back to the top, and he has searched for an opportunity such as one similar to this, if not this exact one, since he went down to the Nationwide Series in 2011.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.