HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2011) — Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet brought home a sixth-place finish Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season, Sadler fought back from problems on pit road to score the team’s 24th top-10 this season.
The Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team qualified second for the main event and brought the field to green from the outside pole for the 34th event of the season. Sadler quickly jetted to the lead on the first lap and held his ground when the yellow flag dropped for the first time of the day for a two-car incident on lap two.
The field revved back up to full speed on lap eight with Sadler as the leader, but the No. 22 car quickly pushed past the No. 2 Chevrolet by lap nine. KHI teammate Clint Bowyer moved past the driver on lap 14 as the yellow flag dropped for debris. Sadler relayed to the team that the No. 2 was really good, and crew chief Ernie Cope instructed the driver to remain on track.
The green flag waved on lap 17 with Sadler in the third position, but was shuffled back one position as the field went three-wide on the restart. The OneMain Financial Chevrolet worked back up to the second position by lap 35 and was the fastest car on the track when another caution came out on lap 35.
Cope called the No. 2 down pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 36. NASCAR officials ruled that a lug nut fell off the Chevrolet, forcing the team to restart at the back of the lead lap pack. Sadler drove down pit road again on lap 37 to top the car off with fuel and restarted in the 32nd position on lap 40.
Sadler began to pick off positions and worked his way into the top 10 by lap 65. He communicated with the crew that the No. 2 was just a little tight getting to the center of the corners, but by lap 81, he was the fastest car on the track again running in the ninth position.
Scheduled green-flag stops began on lap 90, and Sadler came down pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 93 running in the eighth position. As the crew bolted on the right-side tires, an incident on the track caused NASCAR to bring out the caution flag. The crew worked quickly and got the No. 2 back on track before the leader passed him. With the caution out, Cope brought Sadler back down pit road to put on the left-side tires, added fuel and made a slight chassis adjustment.
Sadler restarted in the seventh position on lap 98, and worked his way to the third position by lap 109. The driver told his crew that he needed more right-rear grip in the car, and when a caution came out on lap 132, the team had the opportunity to work on the grip of the car. Sadler came down pit road on lap 134 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. NASCAR reported that he was too fast exiting pit road, putting him at the tail end of the lead lap cars.
Cope called Sadler down pit road one more time to top off with fuel before the field went back to green. Sadler restarted in the 19th position on lap 137, but was slowed again on lap 146 for an incident involving the No. 66.
The driver communicated that the car still needed more grip as he came down pit road for fuel and a chassis adjustment. The field came back to green on lap 153 with Sadler in the 13th position, and he quickly relayed that the car was increasingly tight.
The caution flag flew for a seventh time on lap 173 as the No. 16 car spun, and the No. 2 team took advantage of the break to come down pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment. The field came back to green on lap 180 with Sadler in 10th, but another accident on lap 183 brought out the yellow flag.
As the green flag waved on lap 187, Sadler pushed his way up to the third position until the field was slowed again for an incident involving the No. 7 car.
The final green flag of the night waved on lap 197, but Sadler was shuffled back to the sixth position, where he would take the checkered flag. Sadler finished the year second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Points standings.
Comments from driver Elliott Sadler:
“There’s nothing more I wanted than to bring home a win for this OneMain Financial team. I think I got the car a bit too tight toward the end, but I will say one thing: I am so proud of this team. They have been with me through the ups and the downs of this season, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this program.”