After another wild finish at the famed Talladega Superspeedway, Elliott Sadler won the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Aaron’s 312 after taking and holding the lead on a late restart.
POPULAR SPEED summed up the close to this action-packed race:
In order, Chris Buescher, Regan Smith, David Ragan and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top five. Sadler beat Buescher by 0.124 sec.
Sadler took the win with an average speed of 131.224 mph, and the race lasted two hours, 22 minutes and 18 seconds.
Sadler became the seventh different winner this Nationwide season on Saturday, and the No. 11 Toyota is just one point behind series leader Chase Elliott. After joining Joe Gibbs Racing prior to the last Nationwide season, this is Sadler's first win in the series for JGR.
AP Sports caught the moment:
Elliott followed his own pre-race words, via StartnParkblog.com, while running to the win:
Talladega is considered a wildcard on the NASCAR schedule. One of the main goals of the race is to stay out of the inevitable “Big Ones.” We hope to stay out of the way and be there at the end to compete for the win.
Have a look at the top 20 from this race, or you can view the full results at ESPN.com.
It is always an entertaining day of racing at this superspeedway. Just ask NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip:
Hornish Jr. began the day on the pole. It was his first NNS start of the season and also his first Nationwide start for JGR. Hornish was feeling good coming into the race, and NASCAR on ESPN shared this pre-race Hornish quote on his new team:
Hornish was strong all day and finished fifth, but he wasn't a serious threat for the win at the end. Instead, it was his JGR teammate who stormed to the victory. Still, it was a different team that dominated most of the day.
JR Motorsports did not take the checkered flag, but it looked like it was headed toward another win this Nationwide season.
Regan Smith (No. 7), Kasey Kahne (No. 5) and Chase Elliott (No. 9) were trading the lead for a good stretch of racing as the drivers closed in on the checkered flag.
The Twitter account for JR Motorsports took a moment to note their dominance with this tweet picturing the leaderboard:
Unfortunately for the team, the late restarts did not go well.
With fewer than 10 laps to go, Chase Elliott had the lead. He was starting on the outside lane, and the outside was not working on this day.
From the inside lane, Ryan Blaney bump-drafted David Starr to take the lead. Blaney overtook Starr but got pushed back to the high line by Elliott Sadler. Blaney, trying to catch the side draft, got into Sadler and found the wall. The big one ensued.
It brought out a red flag with five laps to go. The NASCAR Country was not surprised:
Racing was stopped for roughly nine minutes as the the track was cleared.
On the final restart, Sadler had the lead. He held onto it, and although guys were pushing their cars to the limit, it was a surprisingly uneventful finish.
The Nationwide Series will now take a week off before returning to a short-track race at the Iowa Speedway on May 18. Sadler's win certainly cements his position for the series championship. With the early-season dominance of JR Motorsports, however, Chase Elliott will not surrender his lead easily.
Meanwhile, race fans will firmly fix their gaze to Sunday when the Sprint drivers take on this epic track.