In the Draft with Elliott Sadler: Preparing for '11
With Daytona just around the corner, I'm glad to see the end of the offseason in sight. Around this time of year, I begin to get cabin fever and I'm ready to go racing -- especially this season as I move to the Nationwide Series to drive for Kevin Harvick Inc.
Even though I'm really excited to start racing again, I did get to enjoy a lot of quality time with my family over the offseason. My wife Amanda and I were able to celebrate our son Wyatt's first Christmas at home. It is such a fun and cool experience. All I had to do was barely tear the paper off the boxes for him and he did the rest. We really didn't even need to buy him any toys; he had more fun ripping the paper!
I was also able to do a little deer hunting. I have quite a few acres at my home in Emporia, Va., and I had some buddies come up over the winter and we harvested a few deer. But I think the real offseason highlight was the Boyz II Men concert. That's right, folks, right in my little hometown of Emporia, Va.! I'm not sure who the event promoter is in our town, but the local elementary school was full. I even got the guys to sign my greatest hits CD! It was a lot of fun.
However, as a former basketball player, the highlight of my offseason was going to watch our local basketball teams compete. High school basketball in Emporia is very popular, so much so that when the tickets go on sale for my alma mater Brunswick Academy against our rival high school, Greensville High, you have to make sure you write that date on your calendar because tickets sell out within hours. It's always a hard-fought battle and I had a great time at the game -- even though Greensville won.
Despite all of the hometown fun I had, it was also time to start preparing for the 2011 season with my new team and some new sponsors. I had an Armour photo shoot to kick things off in December, followed by a photo shoot for our new partner, OneMain Financial. Most of you will recognize the company as the former CitiFinancial, but they are undergoing a major rebranding effort this season and are planning to use NASCAR as their main platform to rebrand. We are kicking things off in Daytona with our newly designed OneMain Financial No. 2 Chevrolet Impala. Then we will have a host of new partners throughout the beginning of the season. I'm really looking forward to working with all of our new partners and their branding efforts throughout the 2011 season.
I just can't wait to start racing. I know we are going to be very competitive this season. For Daytona, my car has been to the wind tunnel and seven-post more than any of my Cup cars in the past few years. I think we are ready to go and I think everyone else would agree. When I attended Media Day in Charlotte, N.C., back in January, I had a chance to catch up with quite a few of our NASCAR media partners. I heard the same questions several times. What do you expect from this season? Will it be a disappointment if you don't win the championship? Do you feel a lot of pressure as the season's favorite for the title?
I have to be honest: Yes, it will be a disappointment if we don't win the Nationwide Series championship. I'm going into this season looking forward to racing in good quality equipment and racing in the top five each and every weekend. I don't feel a lot of pressure because to me this is fun. It reminds me of when I first started racing at South Boston [Va.] Speedway when I came to the race track each and every week and I was the guy to beat. That is a great feeling. It is why we all started racing in the first place, not only to race the competition, but to be the competition. I think this season is going to be one of the most enjoyable seasons I've had in a long time and I expect to find Victory Lane in the Nationwide Series for the first time since 1998. It's so funny that it's been 13 years since I've raced full time in this series. I'm amazed at how time has flown. But I'm appreciative of the opportunity that Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] have given me this year and we are going to make the most of it.
Let 2011 begin! I will be blogging and checking in with all my fans twice a month on NASCAR.com!
Until next time! Holla!
In the Draft with Elliott Sadler is a twice-monthly blog and the opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.