NASCAR XFinity Series
Sadler makes Chase history with VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 victory at the Kentucky Speedway
It was his third victory this season
SPARTA, Ky. – Elliott Sadler made sure a Sprint Cup Series regular did not crash the opener of NASCAR’s inaugural XFINITY Series Chase on Sept. 25.
Dillon led 47 laps and finished 27th in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
The veteran driver passed Ryan Blaney for the lead on a restart with four laps remaining in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 and beat Daniel Suarez to the finish line by 0.246 of a second to win the race at Kentucky Speedway.
With the victory, his third this season and first on the 1.5-mile track, Sadler automatically advances to the second round of the Chase as he tries for his first NASCAR national series title.
“It feels unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve had a really hard week on not much sleep. So to come here and be able to walk away with a trophy is very special, more than you probably know. It’s a great first step in the Chase. I couldn’t be more thankful and proud of my race team and the cars that they’ve given me.”
A call from his mother, Bell, before the race inspired the 41-year-old driver. She has been dealing with health problems but was allowed to leave the hospital so she could watch the race on television.
“I’ll go see her first thing in the morning when I get home,” he said. “I’ve watched my mom fight so much this week. She’s a tough rascal, man, battling a lot. Had two surgeries – one on Monday and one on Tuesday. If I can see my 70-year-old mom fight like that to get better and want to make it home, I sure as hell can fight inside the racecar and do a better job.”
Sadler thought he had a 10th or 15th place car, but he and his team used every opportunity to get the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet better throughout the night.
“We weren’t as good as we needed to be at the beginning of the race,” he said. “At halfway, we were running 21st and actually took our time on pit road and the guys fixed the car. I had run into somebody on a restart and knocked a hole in the nose. So to win under the pressure we were under in this Chase format says a lot for our race team.”
Suarez was disappointed with his runner-up finish in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“I felt like we had the fastest car out there and I just ran out of time,” he said.
Blaney traveled from New Hampshire, where he and the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, to qualify and race the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. His bid to repeat as the winner of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 ended with a third place finish.
Sam Hornish Jr. rebounded from contact with Suarez earlier in the race to finish fourth. Matt Tifft finished fifth in what was his first XFINITY race since undergoing surgery in July to remove a benign brain tumor.
Notably absent from the top 10 were Chase contenders Erik Jones and Ty Dillon. Jones, the top seed among the 12 drivers who qualified for the seven-race Chase, established through practice and in qualifying that his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was the car to beat.
The 20-year-old was positioned to challenge for the victory on a restart with 13 laps remaining. Sadler held the lead and chose the outside lane. Blaney was second and lined up inside of Sadler. Jones was behind Blaney with Dillon to his outside.
The quartet raced door-to-door through Turn 2 and down the backstretch. As they entered Turn 3, Jones drifted up into Dillon and the contact sent both cars into the outside wall.
Jones started from the pole and led 100 laps, but a victory at Kentucky Speedway continues to elude him. He finished 28th and took the blame for the incident.
“It’s my fault,” said Jones, who fell to ninth in the standings. “It’s tough being in that situation. It’s a pretty tough aero situation into (Turn) 3. I just couldn’t hang onto it. I tried to slow down and give some room on entry but he just kept slamming down on my door. I did all I could to hang onto it….We definitely had a winning car but we just made a mistake and it ended our night.”
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