It should come to no surprise at all that Elliott Sadler has made it to the Championship 4 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Sadler, made it to the final round at the Homestead-Miami Speedway just last year too. With 361 career XFINITY Series starts to his credit, why would a veteran of his stature making it to the final round be a surprising?
Well, consider this, Sadler hasn’t reached victory lane yet this season. In fact, Sadler hasn’t been to victory lane in his last 38 tries. His last win was Sept. 24, 2016 at the Kentucky Speedway. Now, here Sadler is in the hunt to win his first career NASCAR championship.
If Sadler wins the championship on Saturday, but he doesn’t take his No. 1 Chevrolet to victory lane in doing so, then the JR Motorsports driver would be the first NASCAR champion to win a title but not win a race during their championship campaign.
With how NASCAR has adopted a new playoff format that rewards winning, how impressive would it be that a champion could be crowned but never win a race during that respective season?
It’s not like Sadler hasn’t been close though. He has 12 top fives this season alone and 24 top 10’s to his credit as well. In fact, he’s finished in the top 10 in every playoff race but one, including nine top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts to his credit.
He was also the points leader after 24 of the 32 races this season. The worst he’s been in the championship standings in 2017 was third.
So, while it would be a huge accomplishment if Sadler could win the title without winning a race, it wouldn’t be shocking.
Also, Sadler has made 830 starts across all three NASCAR divisions, with taking 17 wins in those races. He’s one of the few drivers to win in all three divisions too.
Plus, since he’s returned to the series on a full-time basis in 2011, Sadler has finished runner-up in the final standings three times. He was third, fourth and sixth in the other three years.