“I Lost the Daytona 500, but Gained a Son”- NASCAR Icon Elliott Sadler Uncovers Heartbreaking Reality Behind 2009 Matt Kenseth Defeat

Published 11/19/2023, 1:29 AM EST

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Winning the iconic Daytona 500 is a dream that every single stock car racing driver harbors. The event is considered to be one of the greatest spectacles of all time in the NASCAR circuit. However, for Elliott Sadler, losing the Daytona 500 despite being in a position to win was a blessing. He might have been frustrated on the track, but there was something far more important than the biggest race in the NASCAR calendar.

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The 2009 Daytona 500 saw Matt Kenseth take the checkered flag ahead of Kevin Harvick and AJ Allmendinger. Elliott Sadler led 24 laps in the event, more than any other driver, but eventually failed to get the job done. The 48-year-old was driving for Richard Petty Motorsports at the time and he finished P5 in that particular race.

When Elliott Sadler was thankful to lose the Daytona 500

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In a recent episode of ‘Kenny Conversation’ with Kenny Wallace, Elliott Sadler revealed that he was a frustrated man at the end of the race. He had a good chance of winning the race before being beaten by Matt Kenseth. Kenseth passed Sadler in turn 1 and then it started raining going into turn 2. The race was called off with 48 laps to go. According to the 48-year-old, he would have been a Daytona 500 winner had he held on to the lead for just 12 more seconds.

However, a bigger event was about to unfold in Sadler’s life at the time. The former Cup Series driver revealed that his wife was due at the time and it turned out their son Wyatt (now 13) had an atresia. The couple was unsure whether he would live or not. Elliott Sadler’s wife went into labor the morning after Daytona.

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“I flew home as disappointed as I could be, heartbroken. I had screwed up, and I let Matt Kenseth under me 10 seconds to go in the race. My wife went into labor the next morning at 4:30 in the morning. So I got to be with my wife who had to have a C-section for my son who had to have 2 emergency surgeries the day he was born to live,” Sadler revealed.

Had he won the Daytona 500 that day, Sadler would have had to stay in and around the venue overnight, performing media duties. He would not have been able to be there for his wife.

“I would have not been home to be with my wife through the tough times that we knew it was gonna be with Wyatt when he was born with the emergency surgeries that he had to have,” the 48-year-old added.

After listening to the story, Kenny Wallace let out a witty but heartfelt comment: “So if we’re going to have a phrase it’s like, “I lost the Daytona 500 but gained a son.

Wyatt’s birth was not the only time Elliott Sadler and his wife had been incredibly worried. Two years after he was born, Wyatt faced another health crisis which forced his father to drive like his life depended on it. And in a way, it actually did. 

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Ex-NASCAR racer shares stressful experience with son’s health scare

The incident took place on Wyatt’s second birthday. It turns out that the young man doesn’t react well to peanut butter. So when he accidentally tasted some, his health immediately deteriorated. Sadler, who was fortunately at home and not at a race far away this time, had to drive like crazy to get him to the emergency room on time. As per an article in Associated Press, the then Xfinity Series driver recalled the stressful experience.

“That was scary,” Sadler said. “It opened a different side of life for us. We had to take a lot of precautions, be very proactive. I get that from racing, though. It’s a dangerous job. Every time I race, I make sure the car, my helmet, gloves, seat and the entire interior are ready in case I’m in a wreck.”

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The Sadler family has gone through quite a but it was all so that their son could be healthy. Today, Wyatt, already a teenager, is a healthy and much-loved member of the family.

Watch this story: Dale Earnhardt Jr.: A Tale of Unseen Battles

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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