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Can Elliott Sadler slip into Charlotte victory lane, inch closer to Nationwide Series title?

Elliott Sadler
Elliott Sadler

By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

A glance at Elliott Sadler's cumulative statistics in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season reveals some gaudy numbers: 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes to go with four pole positions. And he's second in the points standings heading to the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.

But there's also a number that Sadler doesn't particularly care for: The zero under the win column.

"Yeah, it bothers me, because I want to win," Sadler said. "I'm not trying to win to appease other people, I want to win for my race team. I want to win because (crew chief) Ernie Cope and those guys put a lot of effort into our race team each and every week to go to the race track and run good. I really see the effort that goes into having a championship-contending team. That's why I want to win. I want to win for those guys."

Sadler notes that his No. 2 Kevin Harvick Inc. has had its chances and easily could have four or five wins in 2011.

"But our No. 1 goal is to win the championship," Sadler said. "If you asked me whether I want to win a race and not win the championship or win the championship and not win a race, it's a very easy answer for me."

Sadler heads to Charlotte 20 points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with four races remaining in the season. Under NASCAR's simplified points system, that's 20 positions on the racetrack. Sadler knows that won't be easy to make up, but he believes "it's definitely within reach."

"If we can average (beating Stenhouse) five positions a race, we've got a chance," Sadler said. "If we run in the top two or three each week for the last four races, we think we're going to be in the middle of this thing by the time Homestead is over with."

There is still a lot of racing left, and Sadler is experienced enough to know "anything can happen."

"You don't always need to hit a walk-off home run or throw a Hail Mary," Sadler said. "The way this points system is, it rewards consistency. If we can be consistent and average a third- or fourth-place finish the last four races, we honestly feel like we've got a shot to win this thing."

Of course, Sadler will be gunning for a victory, especially at Charlotte. This weekend's race - as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month - means a lot to Sadler and his family, as his mother, Bell, beat breast cancer a few years ago. He would love nothing more than to slip into Charlotte's victory lane.

"I tell you what, a victory at Charlotte would be huge," Sadler said. "A victory anywhere is big, but to me, the fall race at Charlotte means a lot. It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we're running a pink racecar this weekend. For what my family and my mom went through, to be able to win at Charlotte would be huge."

Fast facts
What:
Dollar General 300
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, N.C.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m. Eastern
Radio: PRN-Sirius/XM Satellite Ch. 90
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race distance: 200 laps/300 miles
Qualifying: Friday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Brad Keselowski
2010 polesitter: Clint Bowyer
Points standings: 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 1,064; 2. Elliott Sadler, 1,044; 3. Reed Sorenson, 994; 4. Aric Almirola, 984; 5. Justin Allgaier, 972; 6. Jason Leffler, 916; 7. Kenny Wallace, 866; 8. Steve Wallace, 839; 9. Brian Scott, 838; 10. Michael Annett, 832.