JOLIET, Ill. – Elliott Sadler spent most of the week in bed with a stomach virus, and wasn’t able to eat anything beyond a single biscuit Sunday morning.
As weak as Sadler felt, there was no way he was giving up his seat.
Sadler brushed off questions from team owner Richard Childress about a potential replacement driver, then held off a charge by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on a green-white-checker finish to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.
Was there a pride factor in toughing it out?
You’re damn right, Sadler said. I told Richard yesterday, I was like, I can handle this.’
Childress said he thought about putting a backup driver in place as an insurance policy, but understood why Sadler didn’t want to give up the wheel.
I’ve seen drivers when it gets down to it, that’s worse than giving your wife away, I think, Childress said.
Childress then sheepishly apologized to Sadler’s wife, who was sitting off to the side in the postrace interview room.
Explaining why it was so important to tough it out, Sadler proudly noted that he threw up three times in his helmet during a race earlier in his career.
It was a big-time pride thing today to stay in the car and do what I felt like I needed to do to be competitive, Sadler said.
Stenhouse finished second, followed by Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace and Michael Annett.
Wallace’s car was found to be too light in postrace inspection. NASCAR officials are expected to determine any penalties this week.
It was the third win of the season for Sadler, who has eight Nationwide victories in his career. Sadler won at Phoenix and Bristol earlier this season. He leads the series standings by 11 points over Austin Dillon, who finished sixth.