BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2011)—- The No. 2 Armour Vienna Sausages Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team worked diligently during the NASCAR Nationwide Series off weekend to prepare for the “World Fastest Half-Mile” at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (BMS). However, adversity struck the team only minutes into the first practice session on Friday when Sadler cut a tire sending him into the outside retaining wall. The damage sustained in the incident forced the team to pull out their backup car. Perseverance by Sadler and the team throughout the weekend led to their first top five run of 2011.
“This is exactly what we needed,” Sadler said after climbing from the No. 2 car following the event. “I have been telling my guys all week that we are a strong race team and all we need is an uneventful race to get ourselves going in the right direction. We were thrown several curve balls with having to pull out a backup car and the tire situation, but we made a plan and stuck to it. I’m very proud of our run and I’m excited about the momentum we have built heading to Auto Club Speedway next weekend.”
Thunder Valley began to roar with Sadler starting the 300-lap event in the sixth position. The No. 2 car was too tight at the beginning of the run, but the team built in adjustability to fix the issue on the first pit stop which came at lap 25 with a competition caution NASCAR called in order for teams to put on new right-side tires due to tire-wear issues discovered in the previous day’s practice sessions.
The No. 2 KHI team took full advantage of the caution giving up the 10th position on lap 26 to come down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Sadler took the restart on lap 32 from the 14th position and worked his way back into the top 10. As the laps clicked off at BMS the Sadler reported to the team that the car was too tight in the middle of the corner. With the second caution flag of the day coming out on lap 68, the team debated on coming to pit road, but debris in the grill opening was causing a high water-temperature reading under the caution period. Unwilling to risk an overheating problem later in the race, crew chief Ernie Cope called Sadler to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Many of the leaders opted not to pit under the caution period leaving Sadler to restart in the 19th position on lap 78.
A long green-flag run allowed Sadler to make his way back to the front of the pack moving into the 12th position on lap 135. The cars that did not pit under the second caution period began to make green-flag pit stops on lap 170. The caution flew for the third time on lap 182 just as the No. 2 car had taken over the seventh position. Sadler brought the car down pit road to the attention of his KHI crew for the final pit stop of the day on lap 184 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. A solid stop by the No. 2 team returned Sadler to the track in the sixth position for the restart on lap 188.
Following the changes made on pit road Sadler quickly powered his way toward the lead position taking over the second spot on lap 214. A rash of five quick cautions late in the race closed the gap between the leaders. Sadler took the final restart on lap 261 from the second position placing him in the bottom lane. Unable to find the grip his car needed on the bottom side of the track, Sadler slipped back to the fifth position before he could make his way back to the top preferred racing groove. The driver battled KHI teammate Kevin Harvick in the closing laps, eventually passing Harvick and crossing the finish line in the fourth position.
Kyle Busch won the Scotts EZ Seed 300 followed by Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Sadler and Joey Logano. Sadler moves up four positions in the Driver’s Point standings to the eighth 32 markers out of first. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will head to Auto Club (Calif.) Speedway for the Royal Purple 300 on Saturday, March 26th at 5:30 pm, EST on ESPN.
March 19, 2011
Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Race: 4 of 25
Nationwide Series Point Standings: 8th (-32)
Next on the Schedule for the No. 2:
Date: March 26, 2011
Track: Auto Club (Calf.) Speedway
Event Name: Royal Purple 300
Broadcast Time: ESPN 5:30 p.m., EST MRN 5:00 p.m., EST