Coming close is becoming an exceedingly discouraging prospect for Elliott Sadler.
In the last several seasons competing for JR Motorpsorts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he has come close to securing his first national series championship. In fact, he’s finished second in the series standings the past three seasons and five times in all.
He’s also come close several times to a victory at iconic Daytona International Speedway and did so again on Saturday, this time losing in a photo finish to JRM teammate Tyler Reddick in the season opener.
The official margin of victory was 0.000 seconds – which is essence a tie – but Reddick’s win was determined by the use of video replay.
“This one hurt a lot today because you didn’t know. It was like, ‘Oh, did we? Did we not? Who won?’ I was looking at the scoreboard, and I was like, well (Reddick) is up there so that’s not a good sign. I knew it was going to be close,” Sadler said.
“But this one hurts a lot. I don’t know how many more starts I’ll have at this race track, and I feel like I’ve always been pretty decent at this track. I’ve been very fortunate to have been in good equipment at this track, which makes a big difference
“I really want to get one of their trophies here at the place. It’s a very prestigious win at Daytona, and we’d just like to get one.”
Sadler manage to remain in thick of battle for the victory but had to overcome much adversity to do so.
The first half of the race, he and Chase Elliott, worked well together making moves through the field.
They got in trouble, however, on Lap 95 when NASCAR penalized the duo for “locking bumpers” and both had to make a pass-thru penalty down pit road.
Luckily neither driver fell a lap down because a caution came out shortly after they returned to the track, which allowed them to remain on the lead lap.
“I think personally inside, you come so close so many times sometimes, you just start wondering, ‘Man, when is it going to be my chance to punch the ticket at Daytona?,’ ” Sadler said.
“You’ve just got to rebound, regroup, and I’ll take notes of today’s race of what I did right and what I did wrong and what I learned about these cars and try to be focused and ready to go when we get to Talladega and this same style of racing.
“That’s all I can do.”