NEWTON, Iowa (Aug. 8, 2011) - Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet team started from the pole in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Iowa Speedway Saturday night and earned a third-place finish, garnering the 10th top-five finish of the season for the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team.
Sadler started off the weekend with two fast practices Friday evening, posting the fifth and third-quickest practice times in the two sessions. The solid practices translated to qualifying Saturday afternoon for the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Sadler laid down the fastest qualifying time of the day with a time of 23.794 seconds (132.386 mph), and nabbed his third pole and 16th top-10 start in 2011.
As the race got underway, Sadler reported that the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet was extremely loose and fell back to the ninth position by lap 13.
The first caution of the night fell on lap 23 for the No. 31 car which brushed the wall in turn one. Sadler relayed to his KHI crew that the OneMain Financial Chevrolet was really loose all the way around the track. Crew chief Ernie Cope called the driver down pit road for right-side tires, a chassis adjustment and fuel. The quick stop helped the team gain five spots as Sadler restarted in the fourth position on lap 28.
Green-flag racing resumed, and Sadler continued to race hard to maintain his position. The driver relayed that the changes made in the previous pit stop did not help, and the No. 2 was still extremely loose. He fell back to the sixth position when the yellow flag waved for the second time on lap 48 for an accident in turn four involving the No. 02 car, providing an opportunity for the OneMain Financial team to tighten up the car.
Sadler brought the No. 2 machine down pit road where the team made a chassis adjustment and added fuel, but did not take on tires. The KHI Chevrolet restarted in the ninth position on lap 57, but got shuffled in traffic and fell back to the 19th position with a very loose-handling car.
The third caution of the night came on lap 99 for an accident involving the No. 01 car in turn two. As Sadler brought the OneMain Financial Chevrolet down pit road in the 17th position, he said that the car was still loose, and it took about 25 laps to get the car to where he was able to manage it. The KHI crew gave the car four tires, fuel and made a chassis adjustment in an effort to alleviate the handling issues.
Sadler restarted the race in the 14th position on lap 107 and continued to battle a loose-handling car. The team had another opportunity to work on the handling of the No. 2 Chevrolet when the fourth caution flag flew on lap 153 as the No. 22 car began smoking as he wound around the track. Sadler came down pit road in the 13th position on lap 155 for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. The KHI team worked quickly, putting the No. 2 back on track in the fifth position, a gain of eight spots for the restart on lap 161.
As the field restarted, Sadler pushed his way to the fourth position and continued to post laps quicker than the leaders. Sadler said the adjustments began to help the car, making the Chevrolet neutral on entry and just a little tight in the center. Another caution fell on lap 184 for debris, and Cope instructed Sadler to come down pit road only if all three cars in front of him decided to pit. As the three cars turned down pit road, Sadler followed for right-side tires and fuel. The quick stop put the OneMain Financial Chevrolet in the second position.
The green flag dropped on lap 190, and Sadler dove to the inside of the race leader, a move that put the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet in the lead. As the No. 2 maintained a five-car lead over KHI teammate David Mayhew in the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet, the field was slowed for a caution on lap 218 for an incident involving the No. 81 car in turns one and two. Cope told Sadler not to pit and to continue pushing toward the checkered flag.
The field was brought back to green on lap 226 for a 24-lap shootout. Sadler chose the outside line as the leader, trying to hold off the No. 6 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and No. 60 of Carl Edwards. With 20 laps to go, the No. 6 and No. 60 cars slid past the No. 2, pushing Sadler to the third position. Sadler held off the No. 7 of Josh Wise who was running in fourth for the remainder of the race.
The white flag waved with Sadler in the third position. As the field came to the fourth and final turn of the race, Stenhouse Jr. blew an engine, and Edwards collided with the No. 6 as both cars skidded across the finish line. Sadler finished in the third position, his 10th top five of the season and second top-10 finish in two races at Iowa Speedway.
Sadler remains in the third position in the Nationwide Series Driver’s Point Standings, 29 points behind leader Stenhouse Jr., and 17 behind second place Reed Sorenson.
Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will head to Watkins Glen International Saturday for the second of three road-course events on the Nationwide Series schedule. ESPN will broadcast the Zippo 200 live at 2 p.m. ET with MRN beginning coverage at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Comments from driver Elliott Sadler:
“Man, I wish that race would have been 251 laps. I can’t say enough about the OneMain Financial team. They worked their butts off this entire weekend. Starting from the pole, we battled loose-handling conditions for most of the race. We battled back, though, and it was a testament to our guys there on pit road. They earned us valuable spots on the track, which brought us back to contend for the win. It was great to race here in front of the great fans at Iowa Speedway.”