TALLADEGA, Ala. — If you went by Elliott Sadler’s post-race photo op after he collected $100,000 in the NASCAR XFINITY Grand National Series Dash 4 Cash, you’d think it was just a run of the mill afternoon. What the race results don’t tell you, however, was that he rallied from a speeding penalty that put him a lap down to finish fifth.
“That’s an up and down day, for sure,” Sadler said. “We came from the back to fourth in five laps. We won the second stage. Then when the No. 42 (John Hunter Nemechek) wrecked when we went to pit under green, I sped up to avoid him clipping us. Obviously it costed us and we lost a lap from the penalty. My team never gave up and we came back to get another top-five finish and win the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash for a second week in a row. We have the OneMain Financial 200 next weekend and we’ll do all we can to win the $100,000 prize there too.”
For most of the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, it was a run of the mill event for Sadler. He started the day second and rode there for most of the first stage. Coming to the line to start the final lap of the stage, Sadler broke out of line to make his move on race leader Daniel Hemric, but nobody went with him and he finished the stage in eighth.
After a five-car wreck on the backstretch brought out the caution on Lap 31, he opted not to pit and assumed the race lead, which he held for the remainder of the second stage. He exited the pits second, but took it back on the restart on Lap 57.
As Sadler slowed down on the apron to enter pit road, John Hunter Nemechek out-braked and shot right past him, running over an area covered in water and spinning out. Sadler sped up to avoid hitting Nemechek and slowed down as he traveled down pit road, as NASCAR rules state you’re required to do if you must use pit road to avoid an accident. But because he pitted for service, which NASCAR has stated that you can’t do if forced to use pit road to avoid an accident, NASCAR posted him for speeding.
Sadler fell to 34th in the running order, and worked his way to 20th when Hemric’s shredded tire and wall hit in the tri-oval brought out the caution with seven laps to go. He took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap, and car after car running out of fuel bumped him up to 14th on the final restart. It allowed him to bump-draft with teammate Justin Allgaier up to a fifth-place finish, past Christopher Bell to claim the Dash 4 Cash at Talladega.
“Coming down to the end, I knew the 22 (Austin Cindric) was gonna restart second, and the 20 (Bell) was behind him. So I knew I was racing both of those guys, but the 22 had damage. So I’m thinking in my head ‘I either need to get to the third lane or the first lane, as quick as I can, not in the same lane that they’re in.’ Then the 22 ran out of gas. Then I knew it was just the 20. And I was trying to get the third lane going, because I thought the 20 was in the middle. Then Justin (Allgaier) made a great move to the middle. Then the 20 moved to the top, and kind of opened up the middle. So I went with Justin. So I was just racing the 20 there at the end. So when we got by them, I just stayed behind Justin and kept bumping him, bumping him, going ‘Man, wherever we finish, we finish, but I don’t need to fan out here and create a distraction and then the 20 come back and beat us, because I knew we couldn’t win the race at that point, off of (Turn) 4. So you’re very aware, I am at least, of who I’m racing and where they’re at, especially at Talladega.”
Sadler leaves Talladega with a 40-point lead over teammate Tyler Reddick.