By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
TALLADEGA, Alabama – It was a rollercoaster of a ride for Elliott Sadler in Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300, but the veteran driver weathered the storm and leaves Talladega $100,000 richer.
Behind the eight-ball from the start of the race after having to start at the back of the pack due to changing engines, Sadler wasted no time in making his way through the field, cracking the top-five within the first 15 laps.
Sadler kept himself up front for the majority of the first two stages, finishing eighth in the first stage and winning the second stage. However, things were quick to go downhill when making a green flag pit stop on lap 75.
As Sadler and John Hunter Nemechek approached pit road, Nemechek was carrying a head of steam toward the pit entry line when he lost control of his car and started to spin. In an effort to try and avoid Nemechek’s spinning car, Sadler accelerated toward pit road, putting him over the pit road speed limit, which drew a penalty from NASCAR.
“You’re not going to win a race coming to pit road under green, but you sure can lose a race and that’s something I think some of these other guys will learn as they get more mature,” Sadler said of the incident.
“He just happened to get me today.”
Falling a lap down after serving the pass-through penalty under green, Sadler would eventually work his way back onto the lead lap, finding himself just inside the top-20 in the closing laps.
With help from his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, the two drivers powered their way though the field, with Sadler coming home fifth, besting the other Dash4Cash drivers to claim the bonus money.
“It feels good,” said Sadler. “For the day we had, the up and down day for us kind of battle back there at the end felt good. We restarted I think 17th and 18th or something like that. I didn’t know at the time, Justin (Allgaier) was on the lead lap and he gave me a great bump on the restart and we pushed and got on the outside and made some groove.
“When he went to the middle, I got behind him and stayed with him and he created some really good space. My spotter was going ‘Stay with him, stay with him, racing the 20, racing the 20.’ When I saw the 7 get between the 20 and whoever was on the bottom, I thought we had a chance to win the money. A lot happened on that last lap or two and I’m just proud we were able to come away with the $100,000 and put is in contention for Dover next week.”
With his Dash4Cash win on Saturday, Sadler, who resides in the NASCAR Xfinity Series points lead, now has two straight wins in the program and made himself eligible for the final Dash4Cash race next week at Dover.