Top-Finishing Championship Contender Jumps Three Spots In Driver Points
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 9, 2011) – Elliott Sadler scored his third consecutive top-five finish of 2011 in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. After fighting with a very loose-handling racecar for more than half of the 300 mile race, Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team improved the handling of the car, rallying to finish fifth and move up to fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver’s Point Standings.
After taking the green flag from the third position, Sadler immediately relayed to crew chief Ernie Cope that the No. 2 Chevrolet Impala was turning way too loosely. The race progressed without a caution for over 50 laps, so Sadler remained on track, slipping back to the fifth position. On lap 51, Sadler brought the car down pit road in a green-flag pit cycle, taking four tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and a chassis adjustment. Unfortunately, the car’s condition did not improve with the adjustments.
The first caution flag of the night waved on lap 69 for a spin in turn two and Sadler was scored in the 11th position. Cope used the opportunity to bring the No. 2 back to pit road and make wholesale changes to the OneMain Financial machine. In an effort to continue improving the handling of the KHI machine, Cope called for four tires, fuel, spring rubbers and shock, air-pressure and major chassis adjustments.
Taking the green flag on lap 74 in the 12th position, Sadler immediately relayed that the car was still extremely loose and that the changes did not improve the car’s condition. A yellow on lap 89 allowed Sadler to bring the No. 2 down pit road for a third time, opting for further chassis and spring rubber adjustments. Restarting on lap 94 in 16th, Sadler stated that the car was “wicked loose.” By the race’s halfway point, the car was improving slightly, but Sadler continued to run 15th. The third and final caution flag of the night waved on lap 124, and Sadler brought the No. 2 Chevrolet to pit road for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments. An excellent pit stop delivered by the KHI crew put Sadler in 11th place when green-flag racing resumed.
The final round of adjustments made a major difference in the handling of the No. 2 Chevrolet, and Sadler began his march to the front of the pack. By lap 164, Sadler was sixth, running lap times similar to the leaders. On lap 176, Sadler brought the No. 2 to pit road under green for the final pit stop of the evening. The team quickly changed four tires and filled the car with enough fuel to make it to the checkered flag. Sadler was once again running sixth as pit stops cycled through. With 10 laps remaining, Sadler broke into the top-five, running fifth when he crossed the finish line.
“I am so proud of this team tonight, this finish was all because of them,” said Sadler following the race. “We were so incredibly loose at the beginning and we just kept adjusting on it until we got it right. The guys were really fast on our final pit stop under green, and that’s what put us in the position to finish in the top five. It just shows how much our team has progressed. We’ve gained more positions in the points than any other team since Daytona, and we just keep getting better. I’m so grateful that Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] have given me such awesome equipment and such a great team so I can run up front each and every week.”
The Nationwide Series returns to action next weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 16th for the Aaron’s 312.