One week removed from the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead, Elliott Sadler is back in the No. 1 spot. With six races left in his tightly contested battle with defending series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., his perch is far from secure.
Sadler aims to strengthen the pursuit of his first NASCAR title this weekend in Saturday's OneMain Financial 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Dover International Speedway. He capitalized on Stenhouse's pit-road misfortune last weekend at Kentucky to regain the series lead by four points, but left the Bluegrass State feeling he missed the chance to build on that cushion.
Another opportunity may present itself at Dover, where Sadler won the pole for the fall 200-miler last season.
"I think we're going to be really good this weekend . . .," Sadler said. "We've just got to go do our thing. We feel like we've got a lot of speed in our cars right now. We've just got to put all 200 laps together and hopefully be there at the end."
Sadler and Stenhouse are the only two drivers to have led the Nationwide points this season, and a renewal of their 2011 title fight isn't out of the question. The two rivals clashed at Bristol last month, causing an angry Sadler to suggest that hard racing would be the norm for the title contenders from here on out.
During a Tuesday news conference at Richard Childress Racing headquarters, Sadler said those rules still apply.
"There's nothing to talk about," Sadler said. "We have always raced each other with respect, last year and this year, and I felt like he took advantage of that respect at Bristol. No, it hasn't blown over at all with me. We've still got six races left to go, and we're going to continue to race each other hard and we'll see where it takes us from there.
"He understands that he's got to outrun me and I understand I've got to outrun him. We're both so fast every week that we're going to be around each other and we're going to race each other hard and race each other clean, but probably more taking than giving when you get down to this part of the season. But that's good. That's good for racing."
While the 1-2 punch of Sadler and Stenhouse has attracted the lion's share of attention, RCR teammate Austin Dillon has closed in. Dillon moved to just 19 points off Sadler's lead with his victory last weekend at Kentucky, bolstering his bid for a title in his rookie Nationwide season.