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Elliott Sadler gets a new deal for 2011: with Kevin Harvick

   Elliott Sadler: next season no longer in Petty Blue (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   FORT WORTH, Texas

   What to do with NASCAR's Nationwide series?
   Kevin Harvick has an answer.
   But Carl Edwards says there is no need to change things. 
   Brad Keselowski, Roger Penske's star, is running away with Nationwide series championship, over Edwards, Jack Roush's star on that tour....while NASCAR officials ponder possible tweaks to the Nationwide tour rules next season perhaps barring Cup regulars from running for the 2011 Nationwide tour title.

   But now into that zone of uncertainty jumps Harvick – who is on the charge at Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin for this year's Sprint Cup title.
   Harvick Friday announced Elliott Sadler, the full-time Cup regular for so many seasons, albeit with only three tour wins, and considerable struggles this season with the George Gillett-Richard Petty Motorsports operation, will run full-time Nationwide for him next season.
   And Harvick has landed a significant sponsorship for Sadler, CitiFinancial, part of banking giant CitiGroup. CitiFinancial has been sponsoring Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the Roush operation this year.
  Sadler has been running Trucks for Harvick's Kernersville, N.C., team, which has an engineering partnership with Richard Childress, who owns the Cup team that Harvick drives for. That engineering partnership was apparently one key to Childress re-signing Harvick to a new Cup contract earlier this year.
  Whether or not Sadler will also drive Cup races, for Harvick or anyone else, next season is still up in the air. Harvick says he and Sadler have discussed that.
   Sadler says the contract with Harvick "is the first day of the rest of my life. We're embarking on a new journey. Kevin has helped rejuvenate my career. Got a new home now."
   Sadler, who last won on the Cup tour in 2004, here and at California Speedway, hasn't had a great 2010: his lone top-10 was a ninth at Michigan in June. And Sadler has has no Cup deal lined up for next season.

  Carl Edwards: wants to win both the Nationwide and Cup championships in the same season (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Edwards, meanwhile, last week said he planned to run the full Nationwide tour next season no matter what rules changes NASCAR might come up with.
   Here Friday he repeated that...raising the curious issue of what the Nationwide situation overall might look like if NASCAR does allow Cup drivers to run in Nationwide next season but not to run for the title – if Edwards were then to collect the most points, who might be the legitimate champion?
   Edwards says he still doesn't know what NASCAR's rules might look like.
   "I have committed to running the full thing....and I am going at it like I can run for the championship, and I believe my sponsors are too," Edwards said.
   "I don't know exactly how it is all going to work out.
    "I might be the only full-time Cup guy doing it.
   "I hope we can run for the championship.
   "I am a principal based person. It seems odd to make rules that keep certain drivers out, based on where they race.
   "If I want to go race at my local dirt track, they don't treat me any differently.
    "Right now Brad is doing very well, but I am not dominating or anything like that.
    "I hope we can run for the championship...and do what has been done historically.
    "To me the greatest achievement in NASCAR would be winning both championships in one year. That would be spectacular.
     "I don't know if it will ever happen, but it would be a neat opportunity.
    "But I don't know what is going to happen -- It is kind of funny that nobody is saying anything about it. It would be nice to know."

   Remember those big coolers you once could haul into race tracks, jammed with beer and food?
   Well, they're about to make a comeback. Sort of.
   Daytona and Talladega have both announced Friday that next season fans may carry in soft-sided coolers of 2700 cubic inches – that's 14 by 14 by 14.
   And that should be enough to hold a case of beer and coke.
   Talladega's Grant Lynch: "In today's economy it's more important than ever to listen to our race fans.
   "Allowing larger coolers into the stadium, while continuing to offer our many free amenities, including free camping, we believe adds significant value to a fan's experience. It's all about making a weekend at Talladega affordable and enjoyable."
    Fans will now also be allowed to carry 'school' backpacks too, for cameras and scanners and such.
    To judge how much effect the new carry-in rules might have on ticket sales, check things out at  www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com

    But still no word from Richard Petty or team owner George Gillett about the future of Richard Petty Motorsports -- here earlier this year, with team manager Foster Gillett (R) and drivers (L-R) Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and AJ Allmendinger (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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