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Team comes first for Sadler

Elliott Sadler is a firm believer in racing karma, and in Thursday's second Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, the driver of the #19 Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge racked up plenty of cosmic good will.

Sadler and Reed Sorenson dropped back to help struggling team-mate AJ Allmendinger, who was not locked into the Daytona 500 field, either through top-35 status in 2008 owner points or through last Sunday's time trials. With their help, Allmendinger raced his way into NASCAR's most prestigious event.

Contrast that co-operative scenario with the wrangling that took place during the off-season, when the team formerly known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports tried to buy out the final two years of Sadler's contract. Sadler wasn't selling and went to court to retain his ride, naming Allmendinger as one of the defendants in a potential lawsuit against the team and its principals.

Gillett Evernham had wanted Allmendinger for the #19 car, and after a merger with Petty Holdings that created Richard Petty Motorsports, the new organisation hired Allmendinger to drive a fourth car, the #44 Dodge.

Sadler deserves considerable credit for burying the past and helping the driver who was ready to replace him.

"You've got to be a man about these things," Sadler said Friday to a knot of reporters outside his transporter. "Kasey Kahne is the flagship driver of Richard Petty Motorsports. But I'm the most experienced, oldest - been here the longest. If I don't lead by example and set good ways for the drivers to go by, who will?

"A lot of times you have to be the bigger man, race what's good for you and your company, and hopefully everyone will benefit in the future. That's what I did yesterday."

Despite the good deed, Sadler still feels he has a lot prove.

"I want to go out there and run the best that I can on Sunday and shut the naysayers up," he said. "The biggest thing that I can do is bust my butt every Friday, Saturday and Sunday as hard as I can and turn it back on everyone else. So, yes, I am a damn good racecar driver, and I've been here 11 years for a reason."


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Elliott Sadler at Daytona [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
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