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01/29 2018

“RR-AZ SAYS, DELUSION REIGNS SUPREME, AS”…ELLIOTT SADLER STILL BLAMES RYAN PREECE FOR NASCAR XFINITY CHAMPIONSHIP LOSS…

 

 

Sadler

Elliott Sadler still harbors some resentment against Ryan Preece over the 2017 Xfinity Series championship race.PHOTO BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

Preece was racing for position when the championship leaders caught him

BY:  MATT WEAVER

Elliott Sadler hasn’t completely moved on from last season’s NASCARXfinity Series championship race.

And given the fact that he hasn’t been able to close out on a championship since returning to the Xfinity Series in 2011, he may never fully move on from what happened in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 42-year-old still blames Ryan Preece for denying him the chance to race William Byron straight up over the final 15 laps with a championship on the line. Sadler led Byron and was pulling away with nine laps to go when he came across Preece for third place on the track.

Sadler wasn’t able to clear Preece for position and got loose under the NASCAR Modified ace turned Xfinity Series rookie. That was opening Byron needed, closing the gap to Sadler, passing both drivers on the way to the championship.

An emotional Sadler immediately blamed Preece for ‘costing us a championship’ with the rookie claiming that he was racing for position in an important one-off opportunity with Joe Gibbs Racing. Nearly two months later and Sadler hasn’t softened his stance one bit.

“It was just one car,” Sadler said during the NASCAR Media Tour. “It was one car that blocked me for about five laps. I feel like when you get the chance to race for a championship it would earn you respect.

“You saw it during the Cup race with Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, just to name a few, getting out of the way and letting (Martin Truex and Kyle Busch) race for what they deserved to race for.”

They haven’t even talked since then.

“Nah man, there’s nothing to say,” Sadler said.

Sadler is back in the No. 1 One Main Financial Chevrolet for JR Motorsports this season and is once again expected to compete for a championship. Since returning from a 10-year Cup Series career, Sadler has finished second in the standings four times in a seven-year span.

Meanwhile, Preece will run a partial schedule for Gibbs.

“He better not get anywhere near me,” Sadler said. “That’s all I have to say.”

Beyond Preece, Sadler is excited for the season. He believes he has an excellent chance to return to the Championship 4 and will once again have Kevin Meendering on top of his pit box. He just needed pretty much all of the off-season to remove himself from his most recent defeat.

“I have to remind myself that I’m still in a great situation,” Sadler said. “But it’s always in the back of your mind. I still think about what I could have done differently to create a different outcome.”