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Sadler prepares for the 'wild card' that is 'Dega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Elliott Sadler was beyond frustrated when, with two laps remaining in last week's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway, his very fast No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota was spun out in a three-car chain reaction collision after a late-race restart.

Instead of a sure-bet top-five, the veteran had to pull it together for a hard-fought top-six -- improving from 17th on the ensuing restart to sixth place in two furious laps.

What was he thinking as he beelined back up through the field?

"I'm losing my cool, but you still have a race out there left to race,'' Sadler said. "We knew we were fast. Two more laps and we would have finished fourth. We were coming there at the end.

"I've been doing this long enough to know this stuff happens so you have to manage your temper a little bit. Doesn't do any good to wreck your car because you're mad at what happened. You've got to get back out there and get the best possible finish you can. And with a good car, we were able to do that."

This wasn't just a life lesson or bit of racing wisdom. Sadler's ability to keep calm and motor on salvaged his championship standing entering what he calls the schedule's biggest "wild card," Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Five top-six finishes in eight races this year ranks Sadler third in points behind two JR Motorsports drivers -- rookie points leader Chase Elliott and Regan Smith -- which is saying something with the season (four wins in eight races) JRM has had.

"We've got a bunch of top-five and top-six finishes we just haven't won the races,'' said Sadler, whose last win came at Iowa in 2012.

"We probably had a chance at Darlington and we were in real good position when I got put three-wide and wrecked. That hurt us. To restart 17th and get back up there was really good. It could have been a lot worse."

Sadler smiled when asked about his expectations for this week's visit to NASCAR's biggest, baddest track.

In five previous Nationwide starts at Talladega, Sadler has three top-11 finishes -- a best of fifth in 2011. He won back-to-back poles for the NNS race in 2011-12.

His Cup resume here perhaps explains his "wild card" attitude about the place. He won three Sprint Cup Series poles here but had only one top-five finish -- third in 2003.

While the racing may be unpredictable, Sadler is certain his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will be quick.

"We're going to be fast at Talladega,'' Sadler said. "We were so fast at Daytona, but you know, Talladega is so frustrating.

"What you do depends on everything else going on around you. You know the big wreck is going to happen and I think I've been in the last two or three years. That's a tough place, such a wild card.

"But we'll go down there and be fast and hopefully get through the wreck and have a shot at a win."

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