LAS VEGAS (March 7, 2011) — After a solid sixth-place qualifying effort Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 TapouT Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team fought a loose-handling race car until fuel mileage relegated them to a 12th-place finish.
“We were just so loose all day,” Sadler said after the race. “After we went a lap down and got the “lucky dog” award we were able to make a huge swing at the handling of the car and were pretty good. All in all we ran well today but things just didn’t come together at the end. I’m really looking forward to going to Bristol in two weeks. That is one of my favorite tracks and I’m confident we will run well there.”
Sadler started the Sam’s Town 300 from the sixth position. When the green-flag dropped Sadler’s KHI teammate Kevin Harvick jumped to the lead with Sadler right behind moving up to the second position. As the laps continued, Sadler became stuck in the outside lane and dropped back to the ninth position. He quickly reported to crew chief Ernie Cope that the car was too loose and in need of an adjustment on the first pit stop.
The race remained under green-flag conditions as the field came to pit road for the first round of pit stops. On lap 49, Sadler brought the No. 2 TapouT Impala to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Sadler returned to the track in the 10th position only seconds in front of leader Kyle Busch who had lapped the field up to the 11th position. On lap 58, Sadler went one lap down to the leaders, but caught a break only six laps later as the caution waved for the second time of the day awarding Sadler the “lucky dog” award placing him back on the lead lap.
The team took a big swing at the handling of the No. 2 car during the pit sequence making a number of adjustments in addition to taking four tires and fuel. Sadler returned to the track in the 10th position. He again reported a loose-handling condition on the restart, but as the run continued the car started to come to him.
By the halfway point Sadler was running solidly in the ninth position when the third caution of the day waved at lap 101. The team came back down pit road during the caution for four tires, fuel and another adjustment. A great stop by the No. 2 team moved Sadler into the seventh position. Another caution at lap 123 saw the No. 2 team back on pit road for fuel and another chassis adjustment. Another solid stop by the No. 2 KHI crew moved Sadler into the fifth position for the lap 129 restart. On lap 138, Sadler moved into the fourth position just as the yellow flag flew for the sixth time in the 200-lap event. The No. 2 team followed the leaders and decided not to come to pit road since they were several laps away from their fuel window.
On the restart on lap 143, Sadler was unable to get the car into gear loosing two positions on the restart, however the team was hopeful the engine would not experience any issues with so few laps remaining in the event.
As the laps wound down many of the leaders began to peel down pit road for a quick splash of fuel. With only 12 laps remaining in the race, Sadler hit pit road for the final time under green-flag conditions for two tires and fuel. Returning to the track in the seventh position the team felt confident of a top-10 finish, but with seven laps left, Sadler radioed to the team that he believed he had lost a cylinder. Sadler was able to nurse the No. 2 TapouT machine home to a 12th-place finish.
Mark Martin went on to win the race followed by Justin Allgaier, Brad Kesolowski, Danica Patrick and Trevor Bayne. Sadler moved up from 15th to 12th in the Driver’s Point standings. The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns in two weeks to attack the World’s Fastest Half-Mile at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Coverage begins live on ESPN at 2:00 p.m., EST on Saturday, March 19th.