By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
In an emotional final race at his home track, Richmond Raceway, Elliott Sadler finished inside the Top-10. The JR Motorsports driver announced several weeks ago that this would be his final season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
In the run to the finish of the Go Bowling 250, Sadler found his No. 1 OneMain Financial inside a hornets’ nest in sixth. He battled with teammates Tyler Reddick and Justin Allgaier, along with Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, and Ryan Reed. Sadler emerged from the chaos just as Cindric contacted Custer. In turn, Custer hit Allgaier, wiping out the Regular Season Champion. The veteran driver remained in sixth, taking the checkered flag there after the final restart.
While the on-track action was quiet for Sadler, pre-race and post-race was emotional for the Emporia, VA native. His children helped give the command to start engine pre-race with friends and family. Post-race, Sadler received a congratulatory hug from his friend, fellow competitor, and team owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. after their final scheduled race together.
“We started racing together 25 years ago,” Sadler reflected on competing with Earnhardt. “We have a special relationship, and it kind of hit both of us there that this was the last time we’d be racing the same racetrack together. He and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller) have meant so much to me and my career, rejuvenation of life.
“It really hit me when my kids did ‘Daddy start your engine.’ Man, that hit me hard. I do have a lot of family and friends here and I love them to death, they know that. They know that this race meant to me. My Mom and Dad have been bringing me here a long time. For this to be the last time on this track, I don’t have a win, but I have a lot of great memories here, and I’ll cherish them the most.”
Sadler’s farewell Richmond race was not without a strong run. The 43-year-old ran inside the Top-10 throughout the entire race. Sadler finished the first two stages in sixth and seventh respectively.
“My OneMain Financial Chevy was good, but we were too tight to run with these guys today,” Sadler admitted. “We tried some different stuff today, to try to get us better on shorter runs and it bit us a little bit. We put our best foot forward, got us some good points, and we’ll move on to Charlotte Motor Speedway from here.”
The sixth-place finish is the 22ndTop-10 finish of the season for Sadler. Despite earning the Top-10 finish, he slips from fourth to fifth on the Playoff Grid, 39-Points behind Points Leader, and race winner, Christopher Bell. Sadler is 16-Points ahead of the cutoff for the Round of Eight, currently held by Brandon Jones.