Elliott Sadler navigated a crash-filled race to take home first place in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
There were a record number of caution flags Saturday night, according to the NASCAR Xfinity Series' official Twitter account. In total, there were 12 cautions holding up 64 laps, plus a red flag on the 193rd lap.
Despite the madness, Sadler earned the win in the first race of the Xfinity Series playoffs, securing the top spot in the Chase standings while clinching a spot in the next round.
Daniel Suarez also helped his cause with a second-place finish.
Erik Jones led 100 laps, while Ty Dillon led 47, but the two competitors crashed with 11 laps to go and ruined any chance of earning the victory.
Here is a look at the top finishers from Saturday night:
|VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 Results|
|Pos.||Driver||Time Behind Leader (Seconds)|
|4||Sam Hornish Jr.||0.917|
|8||Darrell Wallace Jr.||2.671|
While Sadler moved to the top of the list, the entire standings are important as the drivers try to stay alive in the hunt for the championship.
|Xfinity Series Standings|
|1||Elliott Sadler||1 Win|
|5||Darrell Wallace Jr.||+7|
While the cautions led to plenty of confusion, they also created a lot of drama on the restarts. Drivers were going three or four wide at times in an effort to get to the front.
The Kentucky Speedway's Twitter account summed up the action:
Sadler showed this off better than anyone with a come-from-behind win after not leading at the final restart.
He had also gotten to the front earlier thanks to an impressive pit stop, as NASCAR on NBC showed:
Jones and Dillon combined to hold the lead for each of the first 100 laps, but the race turned when the duo crashed with just over 10 laps remaining, via the Xfinity Series:
Jones—the points leader coming into the night thanks to his four wins on the year—also earned the pole position through qualifying. He used it to his advantage by leading the first 27 laps of the race.
As Daniel McFadin of NASCAR Talk noted, the lead was large for a stretch:
Dillon eventually moved to the front of the pack and held the lead for 30 laps, though Jones fought his way back to the front, via the Xfinity Series:
Cautions remained the story of the race as a number of laps ran under yellow. However, the head-to-head battle between Jones and Dillon continued at just about every restart.
Kelly Crandall of NASCAR Talk praised Dillon for his efforts:
It took until the 105th lap for Darrell Wallace Jr. to break up the battle at the top. A short time later, Jones was in a battle with Brendan Gaughan, who turned heads with his performance late in the race.
Dale Jarrett of NBC Sports spoke about the leader of 19 laps:
The lead continued to shift over the next portion of the race as it went in and out of cautions. Once Jones and Dillon were forced off the track, Ryan Blaney took control and became the leader on the restart.
However, down the stretch, Sadler moved into position to earn the easy win, his third of the year:
This is the first year the Xfinity Series is using the Chase format to crown its champion. While 12 drivers are still alive, only eight will advance to the next round, which will eventually drop to four for the championship round.
The pressure will rise next week for the Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway. Competitors will jockey for position in the standings before the cut, which will follow the Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 7.
Sadler has a spot in the round of eight, but the rest of the field will be decided in the next two races.
This was an emotional race for Sadler, "whose mother checked out of a Virginia hospital earlier in the day just so she could watch him race on television," according to Joe Menzer of Fox Sports. She has had breast cancer since 2009.
"We fought through a lot tonight, and I'm going to get a little emotional on you now," Sadler said after the race. "I've been in the hospital all week long with my mom in ICU (intensive care unit), watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering."
Sadler also wanted to make sure credit for the victory went to his entire team, per JR Motorsports:
Considering how important his pit stop was along with the restarts, this was a group effort.
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