While everyone seemed to think Elliott Sadler would be heading else where in 2011 since the beginning of this year the driver himself finally was signing the same tune last week.
It would be of little surprise if Sadler was indeed out of the #19 car at seasons end. The most obvious reason would be a complete lack of success. Say what you want about the teams Sadler has raced for but since moving into the #19 car midway though the 2006 season the driver has totaled 0 wins, 3 top-5’s and 17 top-10’s in 141 races. Forget Jeff Gordon’s winless streak for a moment… Sadler has not even had a top-5 run since the Daytona 500 in 2009.
Sadler’s best year came in 2004 when he managed to make the Chase aided mainly by 35 of 36 races he finished and two victories. Since then it’s been a painful drop in results, standings and coverage. So the news that Robbie Loomis has not ruled Sadler out of RPM’s plans for 2011 raises an interesting question. Do the guys at RPM think Sadler has something left in him or are there no other interested parties in driving for them in 2011?
Kasey Kahne is leaving the team at seasons end, and considering that AJ Allmendinger and Paul Menard are both already signed by the organization you have to turn your head a bit.With Kevin Harvick staying put at RCR and David Reutiman returning to MWR there isn’t much to scour over. The best drivers in the Nationwide Series are all Sprint Cup regulars and the lone exception in Justin Allgaier is signed by Penske Racing.
So exactly who Loomis is talking about when he says that Sadler is one of three to four drivers the team is looking at remains to be seen. I suppose you could throw out Steve Wallace as one name but that could be a stretch. So could that of David Ragan who had been rumored to possibility move to RPM if Mark Martin was to leave Hendrick Racing prior to 2012. Martin and company shot down the rumor he was heading to Team Red Bull and insisted he would return to the #5 car next year.
One thing is for certain leaving Sadler in the #19 car does nothing for either side. It keeps both sides where they are. Nothing has clicked so far so it’s hard to think too much would change even when you reunite Sadler and former crew chief Todd Parrott. Though likely that RPM and company will see how the paring of those two play out for the remainder of the year before making any concrete decisions.
The biggest thing working against the #19 car is there isn’t many options on the other side.
Sadler has not run well since he left the 38 car. RPM has not run well in any of it’s forms (Petty, Evernham, Yates, Gillett) in about 1/5 years, except the random top 10 by Kahne or Allmendinger. These two (Sadler and the 19) need to break up and find success elsewhere.