SPARTA — Elliott Sadler and Danica Patrick both enter Saturday's Kentucky 300 optimistic — just for different reasons.
Sadler finished ninth in his previous trip to Kentucky Speedway, his second top-10 in as many starts here. He believes those performances can help him begin erasing a nine-point deficit to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and reclaim the NASCAR Nationwide Series lead he held the previous 14 weeks.
Patrick is eager to start a new chapter with crew chief Ryan Pemberton after spending much of her Nationwide career with Tony Eury Jr., who left JR Motorsports on Monday. She finished 12th here in June and feels she can do better the second time around.
Sadler aims to take full advantage. "Mile-and-a-halfs have always been good to me," said Sadler, who has four victories and 19 top-10s this season. "I have a pretty decent record (on those tracks) and that's the biggest thing."
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Sadler's outlook might also have to with avoiding catastrophe last week at Chicago, another 1.5-mile oval. His No. 2 Chevrolet could have ended up in the wall and he might have posted a DNF (did not finish) when the right front tire delaminated.
Sadler instead caught a break when a caution came soon after, allowing him to change tires and finish eighth.
Currently 11th in her first full Nationwide season, Patrick said she doesn't expect many changes under Pemberton.
"It's something we'll deal with," Patrick said. "There are still some guys that have been there all along, so I feel like we'll pick up where we left off at Kentucky the last time and get on with the weekend."