TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 17, 2011) — Polesitter Elliott Sadler made it through the season’s most notorious “wild card” race, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, to earn his fourth straight top-five finish. After losing his drafting partners to early-race incidents, Sadler persevered to finish fifth, gaining one position in the Driver Point Standings, now sitting only five points out of first place.
After earning the pole position with a lap time of 53.331 seconds (179.558 m.p.h.) Sadler took the green flag next to teammate Clint Bowyer in an all Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) front row. Selecting the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray as his “dancing partner,” Sadler ran in a tight two-car tandem with McMurray, shuffling throughout the top 10 until the first caution of the race on lap 24. Just prior to the caution, the first of Sadler’s potential drafting partners, KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick, was forced to retire from the race with engine issues.
Entering the pits in the fourth position, Sadler brought the No. 2 OneMain Financial machine down pit road for right-side tires and fuel. Following a lightning fast pit stop, Sadler returned to the track with the race lead for the lap 28 restart. After leading the first lap of the run, the pair of Sadler and McMurray remained in the top-10, with Sadler pushing the No. 1 to the lead multiple times before the caution waved on lap 45 for a spin on the backstretch.
Pitting for left-side tires, fuel and a slight chassis adjustment, the No. 2 returned to the track in 11th for the lap 49 restart. Sadler and McMurray once again hooked up, surging back to the front of the field. The two continued their high horsepower dance in the top-10 until lap 89 when the “the big one” hit, involving 21 cars, including the No. 1 of McMurray. With McMurray heavily damaged and forced to retire from the race, and the No. 33 of Bowyer also damaged, Sadler was now in need of a drafting partner. Restarting in the ninth position on lap 93 following a red flag for cleanup, Sadler linked up with another competitor, but unfortunately the pairing caused the No. 2 to slide back to 14th. The two were forced to remain connected until a lap 112 caution tightened the field and allowed Sadler to choose a new drafting partner.
Teaming up with the No. 22 of Brad Keselowski for a green-white-checkered restart, the pair surged to the front of the field, and Sadler was scored in the 4th position when the caution waved one lap later for a multi-car wreck. Making a second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, the caution flag waved once again for a dramatic incident which caused one competitor to flip on the backstretch. With one full circuit completed around the 2.66-mile tri-oval before the caution, the yellow and checkers waved, officially concluding the Aaron’s 312 with Sadler scored in the fifth position.
“I am so proud of this race team,” said Sadler following the race. “A lot of people have asked me how we turned things around after a rough start to the season, but the only answer is that we’re finally getting some good luck and having things go our way. The team has been performing well since the beginning, we just didn’t have the finishes to show for it. We had a great car today, and it really makes me look forward to going back to Daytona in July.”
The Nationwide Series returns to action next weekend at Nashville Superspeedway on April 23rd for the Nashville 300.
April 16, 2011
Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Race: 7 of 25
Started: 1st (53.331 seconds, 179.558 m.p.h.)
Laps Led: 8
Driver’s Point Standings: 3rd (-5)
Up Next On The NNS Schedule:
Date: April 23, 2011
Track: Nashville Superspeedway
Event Name: Nashville 300
Broadcast: ESPN at 2:00 p.m. EST