At age 36, Emporia native Elliott Sadler is still relatively young but he has seen a lifetime of experiences in racing. As with any enduring professional athlete, the 17-year NASCAR veteran has seen both highs and lows throughout his career but 2012 has given every indication it could be Sadler’s best.

As a seven-year-old, Sadler got his start racing go-karts, hitting the tracks at what is now Capital City Speedway in Ashland. “I used to go there all the time,” he said. “It was Hanover at the time. It wasn’t called Capital City Speedway at the time, but I used to go there and Amelia growing up when I was like seven years old. That’s a long time ago. They used to have a lot of Virginia state races there so I’d go up there and race them then. Great race track. Won a few races there.” In all, Sadler won over 200 go-kart races.

By 1995, he had risen to the NASCAR ranks, winning the Weekly Racing Series track championship at South Boston. In 1997 he entered his first full year of racing in the Nationwide Series and finished fifth in points. An eighth place finish in 1998 gave him the opportunity to move up to the Sprint Cup Series on a full time basis.