MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 10, 2017) – When asked to rate their first-quarter performance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, both Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, and crew chief Kevin Meendering were in sync—just like they are at the racetrack. Four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in nine races is a very strong start to the season, and the duo graded themselves accordingly.
“I give us a B,” said Sadler, the current NXS point leader. “I’d like to have a win by now—that’s our number one goal and the number one thing we want to accomplish week-in and week-out. I think the only way I could give myself an A is if we could get a win.”
Second-year crew chief Meendering echoed his driver. “B—we’ve been able to finish races strong, but we haven’t had the best qualifying efforts,” he said. “We need to be able to start up front and consistently run up front throughout the entire race to lead laps and compete for wins.”
Although the team feels it has more to show when it comes to qualifying, Sadler and Meendering agree their strong point is when it counts the most—during the race.
“The biggest thing we’ve done right is made our cars better each and every week during the race,” Sadler said. “That all goes towards Kevin and the guys who help him make really good decisions under pressure and on the spot. I think that’s the biggest thing we’ve done right as a team. We always continue to get better as the race goes on.”
Meendering pointed again to the team’s need to begin each race with better balance and handling. “We’ve been able to overcome many handling issues, finding speed and therefore producing top-five and top-10 finishes by the end of the race.”
Sadler said he could help that out by doing a better job in qualifying.
“I’ve got to qualify a little better,” the Emporia, Va. driver said. “I haven’t done a great job of qualifying this year and now everything is based off pit selections from the week before. I’ve got to do a better job of qualifying for my team, so that’s at the top of my list right now. (I need) to create some better track position, especially with the stage racing.”
Better execution in Friday practice sessions will be a focal point for the team heading into the second quarter of the season. The OneMain Financial team has the goal to consistently end practice on a high note, giving Sadler a Chevrolet that handles to his liking.
“We’ve had too many races where we’ve had to make a lot of changes going into the race,” Meendering commented. “This uncertainty carries over into qualifying and causes us to play catch-up throughout the race. The stages have brought a whole new element of strategy and intensity to it—confidence and preparation is key heading into the race.”
Sadler reaffirmed his B grade for the first quarter, but said pointedly that the team has things to do as the season goes forward.
“To be leading the points like we are and being consistent like we are, I’ll definitely give ourselves a B,” the veteran driver said. “But, we’re looking for that A or A+ and we’re going to try real hard to get a win.”
Article by Shayna Navarro
To view original article, click here