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XFINITY

Sadler Emerging as Championship Favorite

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Elliott Sadler has been one of the top NASCAR XFINITY Series performers in each of the last six years, and 2017 has been no different.

The JR Motorsports driver currently leads the driver’s standings by a staggering 110 points over teammate William Byron with four regular season races remaining.

Sadler impressed again in Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing third. It marked his ninth top-10 finish in the last 12 races, attesting to the consistency of the No. 1 team.

Consistency has been a cornerstone of Sadler’s success through his time in the series.

Before adopting the current Playoff format last season, the accumulation of points throughout the schedule determined the XFINITY Series champion.

Sadler finished second in the driver’s standings twice and never placed worse than sixth under the previous system. For four consecutive years, he had 20 or more top-10 finishes.

When the new format was implemented last season, he elevated his performance and produced career numbers, scoring 29 top-10 finishes in 33 events.

He entered the finale in contention for the title but ultimately finished third behind race winner and champion Daniel Suarez.

While Sadler won’t break that record from 2016, he’s on pace to for another title run. The current Playoff format is more unpredictable but remaining consistent in the first two rounds will likely pay off in being part of the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Despite not currently having as many playoff points as his teammates Byron and Justin Allgaier, Sadler is in position to win the regular season championship and 15 additional playoff points.

This will provide another advantage when battling to make each round, and further attests to Sadler’s potential to return to the Championship 4.

The 42-year-old remains winless in 2017 but will return to races that he has won previously in the coming month.

An impressive performance last year at Darlington earned Sadler his first victory at the historic venue and provided momentum ahead of the post-season.

Another win would accomplish the same goal while also rewarding the No. 1 team with additional and valuable points.

If he’s able to go back-to-back at Kentucky, he will again automatically earn a spot in the second round of the post-season, placing him one step closer to the title.

Sadler has been the most successful driver in the series over the last seven years not to have captured a championship. He’s gearing up for another run at the trophy and is looking like the early favorite.

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Jason Schultz

Jason Schultz aspires to enter the public relations field of NASCAR. Schultz, 19, attends UNC Charlotte and is a communication studies major with a focus in public relations. In addition to contributing to POPULAR SPEED, Schultz produces podcasts for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Dirty Mo Radio. He also completed a semester as a social media intern at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each year, he volunteers as the social media correspondent for Autism Delaware's Drive for Autism golf tournament featuring NASCAR personalities and the AAA 400 Drive for Autism Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover.