Elliott Sadler leaving RCR
RICHMOND, Va. -- Nationwide Series point leader Elliott Sadler confirmed on Friday he will not return to Richard Childress Racing in 2013 and that he is talking to several organizations about potential Nationwide and Sprint Cup rides.
Sources close to the situation said Sadler is negotiating with Joe Gibbs Racing for a full-time Nationwide and part-time Cup ride. Sources said Sadler also is talking to Michael Waltrip Racing about driving Cup races in the No. 55 when Mark Martin is not in the car and a full-time Nationwide schedule.
"Right now, I don't have anything with any team,'' Sadler said after the first practice for Friday night's Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway. "We are working on some things and we are talking to some different teams, and hopefully some will come together.''
RCR owner Richard Childress told ESPN.com that Sadler turned down a deal to stay with him full-time in the Nationwide Series. Childress also said One Main Financial, which sponsors Sadler's Nationwide car at RCR, has informed the organization it will go wherever Sadler does in 2013.
Childress said even with the loss of One Main Financial he has sponsorship -- among them Advocare, Wesco and Bass Pro Shops -- to run three Nationwide teams next year. Grandson Austin Dillon will be in one of those cars with grandson Ty Dillon competing in eight to 10 Nationwide races while running a full-time Truck schedule.
JGR has an opening after Joey Logano announced on Tuesday he would drive the No. 22 Sprint Cup car at Penske Racing next season. Logano was offered a full-time Nationwide and part-time Cup ride to stay at JGR in 2013.
Martin plans to drive in around 24 of the 36 Cup races next season. Sadler was offered the opportunity to drive in five of the remaining 12 races this season, but opted out to focus on the Nationwide schedule after meeting with Childress and other RCR executives.
Sadler has made it clear it is his desire to return to Cup in some form. He won three Cup races and made the Chase in 2004 driving full time in NASCAR's top series from 1999 to 2010.
Sadler took a full-time Nationwide ride with Kevin Harvick Inc. in 2011 after being forced out of his Cup ride at Richard Petty Motorsports following the 2010 season. KHI shut down and the Nationwide program was taken over by RCR this season.
"I was at the bottom of the barrel when all the stuff happened at RPM and we left there, and Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] gave me a chance to put me in a great situation," Sadler said. "My stock and what people think of me as a race car driver is way different now than two years ago. It's back how it was when I drove the 38 [Cup car for Robert Yates Racing] and we were successful being part of Chase and winning races.
"I definitely have a lot more interest and phone calls now than two years ago before I started driving for Kevin and DeLana."
Sadler was vague on why he couldn't come up with a deal to return to RCR.
"I just think sometimes circumstances ... the stars don't always line up," Sadler said. "It's no big deal. We're just not going to be able to race for those guys next year."
Sadler was adamant his leaving RCR would not deter his effort to win a championship for Childress, who won six titles with Dale Earnhardt.
"Would love nothing more than to bring a championship to Richard," he said. "He's a good man, he's been great to me, he's helped resurrect my career. It would be an honor to be able to put something on the wall before we leave for the man who was on the car of your hero growing up."
Sadler (four victories) has a 12-point lead over defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with nine races remaining.
"We're in great position to win driver and team owners' championships," Sadler said. "That's great bragging rights for both of us if we pull that off. We've both made a hell of a commitment to the last nine weeks to do everything to put the best foot forward and win this championship.
"He wants it, I want it. We have the same common goal and that's why we ran so good all year long. We both wanted to show how good our stuff could be."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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