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Getty Elliott Sadler has the most top-10s in a 33-race season.

The 2022 season ended after Ty Gibbs won the Xfinity Series championship. Several drivers had strong performances but none tied Elliott Sadler’s historic mark.

Back in 2016, Sadler finished second in the championship standings while driving for JR Motorsports.

He won three races and posted 29 top-10 finishes and 14 top-fives. The 29 top-10s were the most in a single Xfinity Series season since the schedule moved to 33 races.

This mark has remained since the 2016 season. Though regular-season champion AJ Allmendinger nearly matched it during the 2022 season. He won five races and posted 28 top-10s and 17 top-fives before ending the season fifth in the championship standings.

He was not able to match Sadler, but he still ended his final full-time Xfinity Series season with the second-most top-10s in a 33-race season. Now Allmendinger will return to the Cup Series full-time.

A Former Champion Had More Top-10s in an Expanded Era

GettyElliott Sadler (front) races at Phoenix Raceway in 2016.

Sadler has the most top-10 finishes in a 33-race season, but there are multiple drivers that topped 29 between 2005 and 2010 when the Xfinity Series had 35 races in a season.

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Kevin Harvick has the most. He posted 32 top-10s in 35 starts in 2006 while also winning nine times. The California native capped off the season by winning the championship over Carl Edwards.

The list of drivers that topped 29 top-10s in a 35-race season also includes Clint Bowyer (2008), Edwards (2009), and Kyle Busch (2009). Brad Keselowski posted 29 on the dot during the 2010 season en route to winning the championship.

The schedule dropped from 35 races down to 34 in 2011 as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the championship. The number of races fell once again in 2012 to 33 as Stenhouse captured his second straight title. This number has remained the standard ever since.

A New Crop of Drivers Will Aim for the Same Consistency

GettyElliott Sadler (right) celebrates a Dash 4 Cash win.

Top-10 finishes don’t result in wins or the championship, but they do aid in the pursuit. Stacking consistent finishes only sets up strong finishes and puts the driver in a position to potentially capture the win.

Allmendinger was the most recent driver to draw near Sadler’s mark, but there will be more drivers with the opportunity in 2023. There will be newcomers to the Xfinity Series, as well as returning drivers that have showcased their skills in previous seasons.

One potential driver that could match the mark is a former teammate of Sadler. Justin Allgaier finished the 2016 season third in the championship standings after securing 27 top-10 finishes and 13 top-fives. Allgaier didn’t reach Victory Lane during the season, but he used consistency to gain crucial points.

The veteran driver will now return to the Xfinity Series and JR Motorsports for the 2023 season. He remains in pursuit of the championship trophy after reaching the final four five times since 2016, and he will kick off his campaign once again at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2023.

Will Allgaier be the one to match Sadler’s mark of 29 top-10 finishes in a 33-race season? It’s possible. He has been consistent since joining JR Motorsports, and he has more than 20 top-10s in five of the past seven seasons.

 

News Source: Heavy.com

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How the Mets could rebuild their rotation without Jacob deGrom

The term “Panic City” is part satire and part truth. Mets fans have been conditioned to have the highest of hopes at the start of every season only to see those hopes come crashing down by April when the team is down by 20 runs to the Washington Nationals and two starting pitchers are on the injured list.

When Jacob deGrom announced that he would be opting out of his contract to become a free agent this winter, fans approached the news with cautious optimism. Nearly a year later we’re a month into the offseason and deGrom has not decided where he will pitch next season. Naturally, fans are panicking. Those who aren’t are doing some mental gymnastics to convince themselves that the Mets would be better off without the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

Between his age (34) and his injury history (Tommy John surgery, ulnar nerve transposition surgery, flexor strains and stress reactions), there are reasons to be hesitant about giving deGrom a multi-year contract with an AAV in the $40 million range. But when healthy, deGrom is still one of the best pitchers in the world and he is crucial to the Mets’ identity and their end goal of winning a World Series.

General manager Billy Eppler has emphasized the club’s desire to build a rotation that can pitch them deep into the postseason. So if that’s the case, then the Mets need a backup plan in case deGrom goes elsewhere next season. Even if the Mets are still the frontrunners, they have to be prepared to pivot.

So let’s look at a few options for plan B. Losing deGrom wouldn’t change the timeline for the Mets. Steve Cohen’s goal of winning a World Series within the first five seasons of his ownership isn’t likely to change based on one player. With so much starting pitching already needed he would be a tough one to replace, but the Mets do have options.

The Mets currently have Max Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco signed through next season, as well as right-hander Tylor Megill and left-handers David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi who will contribute on the back end. The Mets probably shouldn’t promise more than one starting spot to that trio just yet and it’s unclear if they’re ready to pencil in any of the three.

THE BLOCKBUSTER

This option features the free agent signings of left-hander Carlos Rodon and right-hander Kodai Senga, and a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for right-hander Tyler Glasnow.

The tricky part here is that the Mets would be required to give up a draft pick to sign Rodon and probably have to part with some top prospects and maybe even a player on the big league roster to get Glasnow. The club’s desire to win sustainably hinges on the ability to draft, sign and develop talent. That prospect pipeline is not quite flowing yet and Eppler seems intent to keep the top 20 prospects in the organization.

Rodon is probably going to get a five-year contract in the $140 million range after coming off of a dominant season with the San Francisco Giants. Senga, who will be 30 next season, is probably looking at a four-year, $60 million deal. Glasnow is signed with the Rays through 2024 so this deal would set the Mets up for the next two seasons, at least. A rotation of Scherzer, Rodon, Glasnow, Senga and Carrasco is certainly enticing.

THE TWO ACES

If the Mets want to go big in free agency then they could sign right-hander Justin Verlander, Rodon and Senga. The 40-year-old Verlander is looking at a contract similar to the one the Mets awarded Scherzer last year. If the Mets really feel that they have no choice but to hang on to those top prospects, then they could go a free agency-only route. It would be costly and might prevent them from making further roster upgrades, but a formidable rotation doesn’t come cheap.

THE COST-CONSCIOUS ROTATION

Let’s say the Mets want to sign one of the big aces, like Verlander and Rodon, and save some money with the 3-4 starters. They could do that by signing someone like 28-year-old righty Zach Eflin, who will cost less than $20 million per year, and trading for Miami Marlins righty Pablo Lopez. Adding two pitchers and using some combination of Megill, Peterson and Lucchesi would mean they could use the money saved to bring back outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Scherzer, Verlander, Eflin, Carrasco and Peterson wouldn’t be a super-rotation but it would still be very good. If not Eflin, maybe Nathan Eovaldi, Kyle Gibson or a reunion with Chris Bassitt. It might not hurt to see if Seth Lugo wants to come back as a starter either.

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