By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Elliott Sadler’s week started off bad before he even got to Homestead-Miami Speedway. Following last week’s Galaxy Ticket 200 at Pheonix, Sadler’s car was busted for a lug nut violation. Missing lug nuts in post race inspection meant that Sadler’s crew chief, Kevin Meendering would be suspended for this weekend’s Championship finale race in South Beach.
In Meendering’s absence, Mike Bumgarner steps in to turn the wrenches on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro.
Once practice fired away for the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage on Friday, the hits kept coming for Sadler as he scuffed the wall at around the 50-minute mark of the session.
Before the contact with the wall, Sadler clocked in a lap worthy of 11th-fastest in the session (165.822 mph). The damage appeared to be mostly cosmetic, and Sadler will not head to a backup car for tomorrow’s Ford EcoBoost 300. Despite not wadding the car totally up, Sadler and his team need to get things turned around in a hurry if they want to win the championship.
The other three drivers vying for the championship: Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Justin Allgaier had much less stressful outings in opening practice.
Jones led the Chase competitors with the third-fastest lap in the session (167.328 mph), while Suarez was fifth-quickest (166.795 mph). Allgaier — Sadler’s teammate — was slowest of the four in the session as he turned the 16th-fastest lap of the session (164.609 mph).