Veteran driver Elliott Sadler won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver award for the third straight year on Wednesday, an honor that comes after he has announced his retirement from full-time competition.
The 43-year-old Sadler has raced in various NASCAR national series for 23 years, racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Camping World Truck Series.
Sadler Thrilled Xfinity Fans
Sadler last raced at the NASCAR Cup Series level in 2017, when he suited up for three races for Tommy Baldwin Racing. His best year on NASCAR’s top level came in 2004, when he won two races and finished ninth in the overall driver standings.
But while he no longer raced on the top circuit, Sadler remained a force in the Xfinity Series, where he raced for JR Motorsports. He finished fifth in the series standings this year, reaching the Round of 8 in the playoffs and posting 14 top-five finishes.
Throughout his career, Sadler competed in a total of 853 races across the three major NASCAR competitions. That included 13 total wins on the Xfinity series, and three victories in the Cup Series.
Now, Sadler will be able to spend more time with his young children: an eight-year-old son named Wyatt, and a seven-year-old daughter, Austyn.
“Last week, I had a terrible week at Phoenix, and Sunday I went and took my son hunting, and he got the biggest deer he ever got and I wasn’t even thinking about Phoenix anymore,” Sadler said after his final race. “So I’ll go home and spend some time with them.”
Sadler won’t stop driving in races entirely. He says he wants to occasionally race in Late Model events in the Southeast, for instance. But while that still leaves him retired from the highest levels of stock car racing, Sadler says he is satisfied with his decision to walk away from the sport.
“I didn’t know how emotions would be,” Sadler said after his final race. “But I’m actually OK, which makes me feel good about my decision. It feels right. I gave it my all. We came up short. But I don’t have any regrets in my career.”
Gragson Earns Truck Series Honor
Sadler has long been one of the most popular drivers on the Xfinity Series since starting to race there full time. Before his current streak of three consecutive victories, he also won the prize in 2011.
The Most Popular Driver award is voted on by NASCAR fans, and will be awarded to Sadler during the Xfinity Series Awards banquet on Dec. 8.
Sadler wasn’t the only driver to be honored by fans this week. Noah Gragson of Kyle Busch Motorsports was voted as the Most Popular Driver for the 2018 NASCAR Truck Series in only his second full season on the circuit.
Coincidentally, the 20-year-old Gragson won’t be racing on the Truck Series in 2018, as he has signed with JR Motorsports to replace Sadler in the Xfinity Series following his retirement.