Elliott Sadler ready for farewell

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 13: Elliott Sadler, driver of the #10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet, gets into his car during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 13, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Longtime fan favorite Elliott Sadler, 44, will be making his final NASCAR national series start in Saturday’s Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 Xfinity Series race.

Even following the 2018 season finale, where Sadler contended for the series title, the 44-year-old Virginian said Friday he “kinda knew” that he had the possibility of running a couple races this season. But this weekend, for sure, he maintains, will be his last NASCAR green flag.

“This one definitely has a different feel to it,’’ Sadler said Friday. “This one, 100 percent, unless you’re visiting [his hometown] Emporia, Virginia, you won’t see me around anymore. So it has a different feel about it.

“I have different emotions just maybe the competitive side when I take the helmet off for the last time. I definitely feel it’s the right time to close the book and move onto the next chapter of my life. A few mixed emotions, but honestly, I feel really good going into this weekend, really relaxed.

“I know deep down inside, this is it.’’

Sadler certainly leaves on not only his own terms – which was important to him – but also on very good terms competitively speaking. In 22 years of national series NASCAR competition, he won three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races, 13 Xfinity Series races and finished championship runner-up in the Xfinity Series an unprecedented four times (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017).

Respected by his fellow competitors and well-liked by the massive NASCAR fandom, Sadler said he takes great solace in his exit. He looks forward to more time at home with his young kids – a busy daughter and son.

And he is especially grateful to the Kaulig Racing team, who surprised him with a specially designed No. 10 Chevrolet, which he had 14th on the speed chart in opening practice Friday. His car will have the same yellow and red paint scheme he ran as a kid in go-karts and a young man in Late Models. It’s even the same colors his father’s business used on its service trucks.

“For 50 years, it’s the color of everything we’ve done in the Sadler family,’’ Sadler said.

“When they surprised me with it this week, that probably got me more than anything because it means so much.’’

It’s especially important to him this final weekend.

“I feel so good about this weekend and the decision that has been made and leaving on my own terms,’’ Sadler said. “No one’s pushing me out the door. I’m going out on my own accord and I can sleep with that, no regrets at all.’’