RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2011) — Elliott Sadler came to his home track, Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, sixth in the running for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, but a top-five finish bumped the Virginia native up four spots in the Driver’s Point standings. After a fourth-place finish under the lights, Sadler now sits second in points, only six markers outside of first.
Taking the green flag from the 18th position, Sadler quickly gained one spot, but a tight condition held him in place for the next 30 laps. As the sun went down and the 0.75-mile track cooled, the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet began to come to life. Advancing to 16th on lap 33, Sadler relayed to crew chief Ernie Cope that the car’s handling was coming to him. As a long green-flag run played out, Sadler moved into the top-10 on lap 74, and by lap 89 he’d progressed to eighth and was laying down the fastest laps on the track.
With green-flag pit stops starting on lap 99, Sadler brought the No. 2 down pit road on lap 100 for four tires, fuel and a slight air-pressure adjustment. Speedy work by the pit crew put Sadler back on the track in 7th, and he gained one more position before the first caution flag of the night waved on lap 124. Now turning too freely on entry, Sadler brought the No. 2 down pit road for four tires, fuel and another air-pressure adjustment.
Running sixth when green-flag racing resumed on lap 131, the on-track action quickly went three wide and Sadler dropped back into seventh, holding his position through another long green-flag stretch. The driver relayed that the OneMain Financial machine was now “way too tight,” but he was able to take back the sixth spot on lap 171. By lap 182, the car was turning more freely in the exits of the turns, and on lap 197 Sadler was once again the fastest car on the track. Sadler moved into the top five with 30 laps to go, but stated that the car was not quite as good as it had been earlier in the evening.
Sadler told Cope that he required more front grip for the final stretch, and on lap 226 he navigated the No. 2 to pit road for four tires, fuel and another air-pressure adjustment. As green-flag pit stops cycled through, Sadler was once again running fifth before the yellow flag waved on lap 243 for a stalled competitor who had run out of fuel. Restarting fifth for the green-white-checker finish, Sadler gained one position before the white flag was in the air. Shortly after the white, the yellow flew for a multi-car incident, finalizing the race under caution with Sadler in fourth.
“I’m so proud of Ernie Cope and my guys tonight,” said Sadler after emerging from the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. “The team made fast pit stops all night and tweaked the car until we got it right. I also have to thank Kevin Harvick for his help. Even though Richmond is home for me, historically it’s not one of my best tracks. Kevin called me earlier today and gave me a lot of advice for this race, and he really deserves a lot of the credit for my finish tonight. This was a great points night for us and I’m excited to be leaving here second in the standings.”
The Nationwide Series returns to action next weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on April 30th for the Royal Purple 200.
April 29, 2011
Richmond (Va.) International Raceway
Race: 9 of 34
Driver’s Point Standings: 2nd (-6)
Up Next On The NNS Schedule:
Date: May 6, 2011
Track: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
Event Name: Royal Purple 200
Broadcast: ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. EST