Analysis: Elliott Sadler redefines “short-term deal” with MWR faux pas

In addition to winning a NASCAR Nationwide Series race this past weekend, Elliott Sadler may have set a record for the shortest tenure in a Sprint Cup car.

Before the ink was dry on a deal with Michael Waltrip Racing that would have put Sadler behind the wheel of the No. 55 Toyota for five races, Sadler was backtracking — at the behest of owner Richard Childress, who fields the No. 2 Chevrolet that Sadler drives full-time in the Nationwide Series.

 Elliott Sadler, driver of the #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Elliott Sadler, driver of the #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

On Monday, Sadler confirmed on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio’s Sirius/XM Speedway what was first reported by Foxsports.com the night before — that the deal was off. In fact, the MWR ride was nixed as soon as Sadler left the Phoenix International Raceway media center after his Nationwide winner’s interview and had what he described as a “long heart-to-heart” with Childress.

You can bet that Childress did most of the talking, and Sadler did most of the listening.

Sadler, the Nationwide points leader, told Sirius/XM Speedway that Childress emphasized the importance of focusing on a run for the title in that series. He also indicated that the subject of racing for rival manufacturers never came up.

But Sadler also knows that there’s not a more ardent Chevy chauvinist in the NASCAR garage than Richard Childress, and the idea that Sadler would accept a five-race deal with MWR before checking with his full-time boss is cause for considerable head-scratching.

Yes, Sadler wants to return to the Cup series, and his eagerness to get behind the wheel of a quality Cup ride is understandable. But it would serve Sadler well to remember that, in a one-off deal with Childress in the Daytona 500, he started the wreck — 2.6 miles into the race — that took out five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Cup debutante Danica Patrick and defending race winner Trevor Bayne.

Given the quality of Childress’ equipment and Sadler’s own talent, Sadler is among a handful of favorites to win the Nationwide championship. Childress is absolutely right to insist that, for now, that’s where his focus should be.

 

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