Sadler remains on hot streak in Nationwide with Bristol win
Bristol, TN (Sports Network) - After not winning a Nationwide Series race since October 1998, Elliott Sadler has now won two of the first four races this season by taking Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Sadler and crew chief Luke Lambert opted not to pit during a late-race round of pit stops under caution and took the lead for the first time with 36 laps remaining. He faked going onto pit road but got tagged in the rear by Brad Keselowski, as he veered back up the track.
"We knew the most important thing was where we needed to start on the restart," Lambert said. "If we did that, it was the only way we could guarantee it. I think we made the right call for sure."
Sadler held off Sprint Cup Series regular Kasey Kahne after the final restart with 27 laps to go and then beat Kahne to the finish line by 1.16 seconds.
"What a great day," said Sadler, who notched his seventh career Nationwide victory. "This is Bristol, and I wanted this worse more than anything, because I love this racetrack so much."
Two weeks ago at Phoenix, Sadler ended a 91-race winless drought in NASCAR's second-tier series. He had been a full-time competitor in Sprint Cup from 1999-2010 before returning to the Nationwide at the beginning of last season.
With the win, Sadler padded his lead to 25 points over defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished sixth.
"To win two of the first four races is awesome," Sadler said. "We got to keep adding to them."
Sadler won a Nationwide race at Bristol for the first time in March '98. His first career Cup victory came here in 2001.
The first four Nationwide races this season have been won by drivers who are not regulars in Sprint Cup. James Buescher, a Camping World Truck Series competitor, won the season-opener last month at Daytona. Stenhouse picked up the victory at Las Vegas.
Keselowski finished third, followed by Joey Logano, who started on the pole and led the most laps with 119. Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top-five.
Justin Allgaier placed seventh, and Trevor Bayne took the eighth spot.
After last weekend's race at Las Vegas, Roush Fenway Racing had not planned on entering Bayne's No. 60 car at Bristol due to lack of sponsorship. But the team secured sponsorship just before the entry deadline earlier this week.
Bayne moved from fourth to third in the standings after his top-10 run at Bristol. He is just four points behind his teammate, Stenhouse.
RFR is planning on entering Bayne's car for next week's race at Fontana, CA.
"That's what I'm hearing today," Bayne said. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but I heard we're probably going to California, just because the [hauler] has to leave on Monday, so they had to go ahead and make arrangements. We're third in points. We got to catch Elliott. He's on fire right now."
Kevin Harvick and Ryan Truex finished ninth and 10th, respectively. Harvick, who has the most Nationwide wins at Bristol, was penalized for speeding off of pit road during last round of stops.
Kyle Busch, winner of the last three Nationwide races at Bristol, finished one lap down in 17th. Just before the halfway point, Busch encountered a loose wheel and had to pit unexpectedly, which put him almost two laps behind. He got back on the lead lap and ran among the top-10 before he made contact with the wall with less than 50 laps left.
Danica Patrick finished 19th, two laps off the pace.
03/17 17:36:46 ET