[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]60% Chance of rain?…No way. On an absolutely beautiful March day here in Bristol, Tennessee, Elliot Sadler has claimed his second victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in Thunder Valley.
It looked like a Joe Gibbs Racing day early but a late-race call by Crew Chief Lucas Lambert that was the call of the day to score the win for the OneMain Financial team. After taking the pole earlier this morning in NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying, Joey Logano flexed his muscles early in the 300-lap stanza, leading the first 66 laps. His No. 18 Game Stop/Turtle Beach Toyota was lightning fast early, but it was Owner/Driver Kyle Busch that was able to climb through the front-runners to knock off his Sprint Cup teammate for the point position.
Another 40 laps went by before Logano again set the pace for the Ford EcoBoost 300 when he again found the front for the second time of the day. It was all Logano for 119 laps today…the challengers, Roush Fenway’s Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. that would mix things up late in the race. Bayne found the front on lap 160 and participated in one of the best battles of the day with teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The battle for the lead lasted around 20 laps between the two teammates with Stenhouse coming up victorious for the point position on lap 224.
It was a late-race caution that left Crew Chiefs with the biggest decisions of the day. It was Luke Lambert that made the right call to stay out with less than 30 laps to go in the Ford EcoBoost300. The majority of the leaders chose to come to Pit Road for fresh tires for the 27 lap dash to the checkered flag. His driver, Elliott Sadler was able to hold off the likes of Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski following the race’s final restart on lap 273 of 300 to earn his second victory here at the high-banks in Thunder Valley.
Sadler recalled his win here in 2001 by taking the same strategy today; ” He (Lambert) reminded me that I won a race here in 2001 by doing the same thing,” said Sadler. The driver of the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevy was joined in victory lane by his parents whom had never been in attendance for one of his NASCAR victories. “Luke made a great call to stay out,” elaborated Sadler.
Lambert was in attendance here at Bristol for Sadler’s previous win at the .533 mile short track, although he was just a Senior in High School. “I was here, and i watched it, but i was definitely a spectator,” commented Lambert. ” I do study all the history of our driver and what track we’re going to and everything else — but I was here for that one. And I was pretty young.”
The win marks Sadler’s second of the season, and fourth straight top-10 finish this season.
Despite having a strong car all day, Kasey Kahne took the runner-up spot to Sadler. Veteran driver and former Bristol race-winner Brad Keselowski took the third spot. Pole-sitter and lap leader Joey Logano ended up fourth with Dale Earnhardt Jr, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Truex rounding out the top 10.
Danica Patrick brought her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevy home two laps down to the leaders in 19th despite starting 27th here in Thunder Valley.