|Nationwide, RCR driver Elliott Sadler
Photo – HHP/Alan Marler
If things keep going his way, Elliott Sadler will be tough to beat for the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. In just 4 races of 2012, Sadler already has 2 wins – Phoenix and Bristol – and is the series points leader. A few key offseason changes have allowed for such a strong start to the season.
Sadler still drives the #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet as he did last season, but the team he drives for and the personnel are different. Last season, Sadler drove for Kevin Harvick, Inc. under the direction of crew chief Ernie Cope. While Sadler had a very good season, he finished second in points and never won a race, which was certainly disappointing. Over the off season, Kevin Harvick, Inc. closed its doors with its Nationwide teams moving over to Richard Childress Racing for 2012. Many personnel changes and a lot of hard work went into the transition to get RCR’s three Nationwide teams ready to go and the effort sure has paid off.
|Luke Lambert & Sadler during practice at Las Vegas
Photo – Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Sadler’s crew chief is now Luke Lambert, a longtime RCR engineer on the #31 Sprint Cup team. Lambert got his first taste as a crew chief leading the #31 Sprint Cup team for much of the second half of the 2011 season. It was a team that was struggling mightily but finished the season strong under Lambert’s direction.
Lambert’s crew for Sadler consists of many members of RCR’s #29 Sprint Cup team from the 2011 season. With so much Cup experience on the team, it’s no wonder that Sadler is having a strong start to the 2012 season. Seemingly, the members on Sadler’s team are all in the right places and working well together. And certainly when you couple that with a capable veteran driver and a team that is providing the necessary tools to win every week, it creates a scenario that will make this #2 team difficult to beat.
Confidence is certainly a big part of any team’s success and right now, this team has it. Lambert’s gutsy call to keep track position over fresh tires paid dividends in the form of last weeks Bristol win. Other pit calls from Lambert have yielded finishes of 3rd, 1st, 3rd, and 1st, leading Sadler to a great start for the season.
Sadler can legitimately win every week and now that he’s got a couple early wins under his belt, there’s no telling how many more he’ll get this season. In NASCAR, if you have good equipment and a team with the proper chemistry, you’ll have success. So far in 2012, Elliott Sadler has both and is poised for a championship run.