RICHMOND (September 10, 2011) - Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet team earned a sixth-place finish under the lights Friday night at Richmond International Raceway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event. The Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team maintained a top-10 position for the entire race, and scored their 19th top 10 of the season with the hometown driver from Emporia, Va., behind the wheel.
Sadler took the green flag in the eighth position, but was shuffled to ninth as the field settled into single-file racing in the opening laps. The driver continued to maintain the ninth position until the first caution of the evening fell on lap 67 as the No. 81 spun.
Sadler relayed to the crew that the car was loose entering and exiting the corners and tight in the center. Crew chief Ernie Cope called the KHI Chevrolet down pit road for four tires and fuel, and the quick stop put the No. 2 in the eighth position for the restart on lap 79.
Another quick caution fell before the field could complete a full lap under green for the No. 38 car and KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick in the No. 33 Chevrolet which got tangled on the track. The No. 2 team elected not to pit and restarted on lap 85 in the seventh position, moving up as the No. 22 car in front of Sadler had issues just prior to the caution and had to fall out of line to pit.
By lap 111, Sadler was turning lap times quicker than the leader, running in the seventh position. He continued to maintain consistent times, and on lap 123, slipped past the No. 66 car on lap 123 to move into the sixth position.
The field was slowed for the third caution of the night on lap 139 as the No. 22 spun. Sadler communicated with the team that the car was too tight in the middle and still too loose on the entry and exits of the corner. The driver drove the Chevrolet to the OneMain Financial pit stall for four tires and fuel on lap 141. Another quick stop by the KHI crew placed Sadler in the fourth position for the restart on lap 146.
The No. 11 and No. 62 collided between turns three and four just as the field was making it way back up to full speed on lap 146, slowing the event for the fifth time, with Sadler sitting in the fourth position. The No. 2 team did not pit, and the field resumed green-flag racing on lap 153. On the restart, the OneMain Financial Chevrolet was shuffled to the sixth position, but Sadler worked his way into the top five when another caution fell on lap 159 for an incident involving the No. 14 car.
The field resumed racing on lap 171, and Sadler fell back two spots to seventh after the restart. The driver radioed to the crew that he did not like the tires, but hoped the car would get stronger on longer runs.
Sadler began to get his rhythm back on lap 187 when he passed the 66 car for the sixth position. With 48 laps to go, he moved past teammate Harvick for the fifth position.
The strong, long run for the No.2 team was disrupted on lap 210 for an incident involving the No. 16 and the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet. The OneMain Financial team took the opportunity to come down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.
The KHI No. 2 Chevrolet restarted on lap 221 in the sixth position, but slipped to seventh on the restart. With 25 laps to go, Sadler continued to battle door-to-door for position as the field raced around the Virginia short track. The driver mustered past the No. 88 for the sixth position on lap 231, where he would continue to race for the remainder of the 250-lap event. With the solid performance, Sadler remains in the second position in the Nationwide Series Driver’s Point standings, 16 points behind leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The No. 2 OneMain Financial team will head back to the Windy City next week for the series’ second race of the season at Chicagoland Speedway on September 17. ESPN 2 will broadcast the event beginning at 3:30 p.m. with MRN broadcasting at 3:00 p.m.
Comments from driver Elliott Sadler:
“It was a pretty good race for our team. It was a solid top-10 finish, although we could have finished higher. We will continue to work hard and fight for this championship. Just as the Sprint Cup Series guys are gearing up for the Chase, we are gearing up for the final seven races of the season, and everyone is unrelenting on our goal of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver’s championship. Our sights are now set on Chicagoland.”