Elliott Sadler hasn't won on a road course in any of NASCAR's national series, but his confidence is sky-high heading to the sprawling circuit at Road America. The reason is all about stability.
Sadler carries the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead into Saturday's Sargento 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) as the series makes its only stop this season at the picturesque road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Sadler finished fourth there last year, but that isn't the only reason he's brimming with optimism.
"It says a lot for a driver's confidence when you're with a secure team," Sadler said of the Richard Childress Racing operation that fields his No. 2 Chevrolets. "There's a lot of stability there, you feel like you're racing week-to-week to get better and better and be part of a championship conversation."
Sadler has only raced on the 4.048-mile road course once. To prepare for the return trip, he's spent time watching the equivalent of game film in other sports -- the in-car footage from his car in last year's race.
"It's almost like studying for an exam going to a road course," Sadler said. "That's the way I approach it. So when I get there, my learning curve is as short as I can make it."
Sadler's return to the points lead has come at the expense of rival Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who opened the season with unmatched consistency but enters Road America with three straight finishes of 25th or worse. Stenhouse has three Nationwide victories this season, second only to Sprint Cup regular Joey Logano's five.
Stenhouse's slip has allowed Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon, Sadler's teammate at RCR, to move up to second in the series points. Dillon finished fifth last weekend at Michigan after winning his first career Nationwide pole; he now sits eight points back of Sadler while Stenhouse is 27 points off the championship lead.