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The First Was Among The Best For Sadler At RIR

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 22 2018

Elliott Sadler has fond memories of Richmond. (RacinToday/HHP file photo)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

RICHMOND, Va.Elliott Sadler’s memories of racing at Richmond Raceway were abundant Friday, but he cited his first race at the three-quarter-mile track in 1995 as his fondest.

“We pulled in on a flatbed trailer and we were parked in between Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt,” Sadler recalled. “It was my very first Xfinity race here; you talk about scared to death. There were 70 cars here. We made the race and neither one of them made it. So that was kinda like the neatest, wildest moment I had. My first race here in the fall of ’95 was something I’ll never forget. It was kinda like welcome to the big time, parked beside two of your heroes in the garage.”

Sadler finished 24th in the race.

Sadler cited 2005 when he was wrecked by Carl Edwards on the last lap while leading as his worst memory.

“We led pretty much the whole race and he wrecked us off turn two coming to the checkered (flag),” Sadler said. “That was 14 years ago; he probably doesn’t even remember it happening. It is what it is.”

The 43-year-old driver began traveling to the facility before he was a year old to watch his uncle race when it was a half-mile track, but he admitted it felt different this week than any other time over the last four decades. Friday’s race was Sadler’s last in the Xfinity Series at Richmond. He will retire from full-time racing at the end of the season.

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Kyle Busch has long been an out-spoken critic of grassy aprons at race tracks because of the damage that occurs to a car when it hits the natural ground cover. However, he is withholding an opinion on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s artificial turf until next weekend’s Bank of America ROVAL 400.

The solution is to pave it entirely and if you really want the aesthetics of green, paint it green,” Busch said Friday.

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If you don’t think you see as many drivers exchanging sheet metal during short-track races as you once did, you are correct. Chase Elliott said Friday the cars were too fragile to do the beating-and-banging that once characterized short-track racing.  

“Any time you touch anybody, with how the fender comes over the tire and the bodies being metal and where the seams meet on the body itself, when you touch somebody in the door, it’s going to fold the fender in ever so slightly,” Elliott said. “You can’t hardly touch anybody anywhere anymore. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in.”

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Christopher Bell said Friday that if Jeffrey Earnhardt was serious about competing in the Chili Bowl he needed to go run laps before the event.

“At the Chili Bowl, you get only one five-lap practice session on Monday now before you start our prelim night,” said Bell, a two-time winner of the event and its defending champion. “If he is serious about it, I really hope he takes the time to go get laps. I know Justin (Allgaier) has done that over the years.”

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Even though there weren’t many random winners in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this year, Brad Keselowski said Friday the 16-team field was “probably as strong as it’s ever been since I’ve been doing this.”

“Typically, your first round is not too bad because those guys that might have not had a very good day going and had a weather delay get them a victory, or whatever, and get them in; they were the first ones out, typically,” Keselowski said. “I think it’s going to be tough all the way down through this round, the round of 12, and the round of eight and so on. I expect tomorrow night (at Richmond) to be hard fought. I can’t say that I’m going to do things a whole lot different because you can get yourself in trouble trying to overreach a lot easier than you can just trying to do what you normally do.”

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Kyle Busch is ambivalent about the use of crate engines in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series this year.

“It’s not been terrible, but it’s not been great either,” Busch said. “We did have our first issue this past weekend at Las Vegas. One of our trucks broke a rocker arm. I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of failure.

“Because I won in that engine in Pocono, by the time it gets to NASCAR and gets torn down, that’s about 10 days. By the time it gets back to Michigan and gets torn down even farther, that’s another 10 days, so we won’t know an answer for about another three weeks or so. That’s kind of frustrating because we’ve got another couple of races coming up that we’re going to be using those things.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 22 2018
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