Elliott Sadler isn’t ready to be written off.
On Saturday at Pocono Raceway, he showed why. Pulling away on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish, Sadler won the Pocono Mountains 125 Camping World Truck Series race from the pole, his first victory since 2004 in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series.
Sadler, 35, beat Kasey Kahne to the finish line by .445 seconds in a race that went five laps past its scheduled distance of 50 laps at the 2.5-mile triangular track. With his first truck series victory, Sadler is the 21st driver to win at least one race in each of NASCAR’s top three divisions. Matt Crafton finished third, followed by Aric Almirola and rookie Justin Lofton in the truck series’ first visit to Pocono.
Sadler’s win vindicated the faith of team owner Kevin Harvick and provided a welcome highlight in a two-year stretch that has seen Sadler struggle in a Sprint Cup car at Richard Petty Motorsports. Sadler announced July 9 that he will leave the No. 19 RPM Ford at the end of the season.
“It’s hard to put in words what this means to me,” said Sadler, whose last NASCAR win was Sept. 5, 2004 in a Cup car at Fontana, Calif. “To have a tough couple years like we’ve had in the Cup series, and things not go like we want to, as far as running up front, and winning races and leading laps and things like that. …
“You sit at home a lot, wondering if you’re ever going to make it back to victory lane. Are you ever going to have that situation again? Are you ever going to be in that position again? This, to me—I know it’s recent, and it’s today—but this is the biggest win in my career.
“There’s a lot of naysayers out there, and there’s a lot of people that write me off, not giving me a chance to make a comeback and be a strong presence again in this sport. To be able to come here and sit on the pole and win the race and race against people like Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin (who finished ninth), who I think are two of the best racecar drivers we have in our sport, means a great deal to me.”
Notes: Sadler drove Harvick’s No. 2 Chevrolet to the lead in the series owners’ standings. The No. 2 truck leads the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, driven by Kahne on Saturday, by two points. … Todd Bodine, who tops the drivers’ standings, rallied from a spin on Lap 41 to finish 12th. Bodine leaves Pocono 149 points ahead of Almirola in second.