Ride: No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Crew Chief: Chris Gayle
Points finish: Third
Stats: 33 starts, one win, seven top 5s, 25 top 10s, one poles, 148 laps led, one DNF, 9.1 average start, 9.4 average finish
Best finish: First (Talladega – May)
High Point: The win at Talladega certainly counts as the high point for Elliott Sadler’s 2014 season, especially considering he went winless the previous year. In addition, Sadler also earned the pole for the Fontana race, showing that his season had a sense of promise. For a driver in Gibbs equipment, this kind of performance is what is expected
Low Point: Sure, finishing 29th and out of the race at the August Bristol race should be noted as the low point — especially as Chase Elliott closed out the season in rather mistake-free fashion — but the lowest point for Sadler was when he was too sick to drive and handed the wheel over to Clint Bowyer at Texas in November. Though Sadler was indeed sick, the timing followed his announcement that he would be racing for a different team in 2015.
Summary: What to make of Elliott Sadler at this point of his career? He is, basically, a serviceable driver who tends not to make mistakes and will put together a decent season. His affable personality combined with solid driving make him a solid sell and a welcomed presence. Sadler, however, lacks something at this point — and some might say that he never really had that ‘it’ factor anyway.
For driving top-notch equipment, Sadler should have been in position to win more races rather than eking out a number in the lower top 10 range. He lacks that extra “something” to get the most out of his cars and his season-ending finishes now go second, fourth, and third. Sadler is capable of putting together a good points season, but until he’s able to best the Xfinity interlopers that come from the Cup series every so often, he’s likely to continue to be frustrated in his lack of a championship. And with some of the younger drivers showing better pace (but not consistency), battling the Xfinity regulars will get more difficult.
2015 Outlook: New year, new team, same story? Sadler moves over to Roush Fenway Racing, a place he once called home, to continue his quest to earn a championship. The move seems to be a little bit of a strange one as Gibbs, along with Penske, have been the class of the field while RFR has often struggled. Perhaps the proverbial writing was on the wall at Gibbs and Sadler found his best landing spot. Whatever negatives may surround the move, he’s still in better shape than a lot of other drivers because he brings full backing with him and should be moving back to comfortable surroundings. Maybe the 39-year-old driver will find new life at his old home.
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