Elliott Sadler drove the wheels off his OneMain Financial Chevrolet to get his second win of the season in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Sadler raced hard all day, battling through traffic and staying in the top five. As the laps boiled down, Sadler was among the leaders making his way to second before the last pit stops of the day.
Sadler had yet to pace the field until the fourth caution flag of the day flew on Lap 260 when Kyle Busch slapped the wall. Running second at the caution, Sadler faked going down pit road and assumed the lead from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The restart on Lap 272 saw Sadler get a huge jump on the field as second place Kasey Kahne kept the pack at bay. Kahne couldn’t make any headway in catching Sadler, who led the last 28 laps in route to his second career victory in Thunder Valley.
In victory lane, Sadler credited the win to a call made by his crew chief, Luke Lambert. “He (Lambert) reminded me that I won a race here in 2001 by doing the same thing—staying out.”
Sadler emphasized how hungry he was for a win at Bristol, “I wanted this worse than anything because I love this place so much.” He topped his interview off by adding, “This damn sure feels good.”
His owner, Richard Childress, shared the sentiment, “Anytime you win at Bristol, it’s great,” before taking the opportunity to boast about his team, “I’m proud of our Nationwide team, working as one big team. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
Kasey Kahne finished runner-up for the second Bristol spring race in a row after running in the top five all day. When asked about being unable to chase down Sadler, Kahne responded, “He was a little too fast for us.”
Today marks another solid run for Kahne in the Great Clips Toyota, and bodes well for him as he will likely be a contender in the Cup car tomorrow.
Other big names ran strong today as well. Joey Logano finished fourth after leading the majority of the first half of the race. Logano thought he had a car that could win, and after the race, he expressed his disappointment, “I feel like we gave it away. . . The car got really loose on a bad set of tires.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran fifth after starting 16th. Junior wasn't particularly happy with his car all day, but he managed to have a decent run despite fighting a tight car. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came home sixth, while Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Truex rounded out the top 10.
Today’s race was relatively tame by typical Bristol standards, with only four cautions for 38 laps. That’s not to say that the fans didn’t see some exciting racing. There were two, sometimes three grooves and drivers seemed to be able to pass easily enough.
Using slower cars as a pick and dive-bombing down into corners seemed to be the way to go as Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made similar passes that will make the race highlights on ESPN. Kyle Busch split Cup teammate Joey Logano on the bottom and a lapped car on the outside to take the lead midway through the race.
There was one minor confrontation on track between Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier as the two raced each other hard all race long, but nothing came of it aside from a spotter to spotter warning from Keselowski to Allgaier.
In all, it was a decent race with some exciting racing. Now, let’s see what tomorrow holds.
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