LOUDON, N.H. (July 17, 2011) - Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team finished 12th after a hard-fought race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday. The team battled from the middle of the pack for most of the day and pushed forward into the top-five, but got caught up in traffic and finished outside the top-10 after a wild green-white-checkered finish.
Throughout the weekend, the Kevin Harvick Inc., (KHI) team made a lot of changes to the Chevrolet Impala through two practices. Sadler qualified in the 15th position for the 200-lap event on Saturday afternoon.
When the green flag dropped on the New England 200, Sadler looked to bring home the first victory of the season for the No. 2 team. Sadler relayed right away to crew chief Ernie Cope that he was concerned with the right-rear chattering on the Chevrolet. By lap 20, Sadler continued to work with the car while running in the 17th position.
The first opportunity to pit came on lap 33 when the caution flag dropped on the field. Sadler brought the No. 2 down pit road in the 16th position for four tires, one can of fuel and a chassis and air-pressure adjustment to help with the chattering tire. The quick stop helped the team gain three positions, and Sadler restarted 13th when the field came to green on lap 38.
Sadler radioed to his crew that the changes helped the OneMain Financial Chevrolet, and he moved into the top 10 by lap 71. As the race neared the halfway point, the KHI machine got caught up in lap traffic and fell back to the 13th position. The yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 93, and Cope called the No. 2 to come in for another pit stop. The KHI crew gave the Chevrolet four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Another quick stop by the team, and Sadler picked up three positions to restart in the 10th position on lap 99.
Another caution period quickly followed on lap 101, and Sadler took advantage of the shuffling of cars and moved into the sixth position. The field restarted on lap 104, but was slowed again on lap 106 for another accident.
NASCAR officials cleared the track, and the green flag flew on lap 113 with Sadler in the fifth position. As he climbed back up to speed, the driver relayed that his right rear was chattering once again. Another caution slowed the field on lap 116, allowing an opportunity for Cope to call Sadler to pit road to top-off with fuel and make a slight chassis adjustment. Cope informed his driver that with the stop, the team should be good until the end of the race with fuel mileage, but he would need to continue to save fuel when possible.
Racing resumed lap 126 with the No. 2 in the ninth position. Sadler quickly got caught up in traffic on the restart and fell back to the 14th position. A caution flag flew for the sixth time on lap 165, and the OneMain Financial team took the opportunity to get right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. As racing resumed on lap 172, Sadler moved up into the 13th position, continuing his fight to move back inside the top 10.
The skilled driver averted a spin on lap 184, going low to avoid the incident. The caution flag waved, but Cope instructed the driver to stay out. The No. 2 restarted in the 12th position on lap 189, but an incident started directly in front of the OneMain Financial Chevrolet, bringing out the yellow flag once again on lap 190. Sadler was able to go low to avoid most of the wreckage but relayed to his KHI team that he thought one of the tires was going flat. The crew looked at the Chevrolet as he drove by on the frontstretch and relayed it looked to be alright. Cope instructed Sadler not to pit, confident the Chevrolet was free of any damage and had enough fuel to finish the race.
Sadler took the lap 196 restart from the 12th position. The field didn’t make a full lap around the track, however, before a multi-car accident slowed the racing action for a ninth time, sending the 200-lap event into overtime. Sadler restarted in the ninth position as the field came to the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. As the No. 2 went into the first turn, a car came up the track, making contact with the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. The impact pushed the KHI machine up the track, and shuffled Sadler into the 12th position as he crossed the finish line.
The 12th-place finish is only the fifth time in 19 races this season that the No. 2 team has finished outside the top-10. Sadler remains atop the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver’s Point Standings, seven points ahead of Reed Sorenson, 11 points ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and 41 points ahead of Justin Allgaier.
Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will be back in action on Saturday, July 23 at Nashville Superspeedway. The green flag is set to wave on the Federated Auto Parts 300 with live coverage from ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET and MRN at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Comments from driver Elliott Sadler:
“It was a tough weekend at New Hampshire. Our team continues to work hard, and we had really great pit stops this weekend, picking up spots after each stop. The green-white-checkered finish was unfortunate, because we got caught up when another car hit us, and sent us up the track which put us in the 12th position. That said, it wasn’t the finish that we wanted but the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will keep working at it. We continue to get stronger, and I’m really looking forward to heading to Nashville Superspeedway next weekend.”