Darlington: Elliott Sadler race report

Sadler seventh in Darlington. DARLINGTON, SC (March 16, 2003) -- Darlington Raceway, NASCAR drivers either love it or hate it. It's a 'drivers' racetrack - and that the main reason why Elliott Sadler loves it. He also has a good track record...

Sadler seventh in Darlington.

DARLINGTON, SC (March 16, 2003) -- Darlington Raceway, NASCAR drivers either love it or hate it. It's a 'drivers' racetrack - and that the main reason why Elliott Sadler loves it. He also has a good track record there and leading up to this weekend, Sadler's best finish on the track 'too tough to tame' was second.

The weekend turned out to be a milestone in the 27-year-olds career as Sadler won his first pole position in qualifying. This was also the first pole for sponsor "M&M's"®.

It was a slow start to the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 as there were five caution flags within the first 74 laps of the race. Elliott jumped to the lead and held onto it until he had to pit for fresh tires on lap 15. Sadler held onto a loose racecar until his pit stop on lap 15 and the "M&M's"® car was as low as 23rd in the field when the race restarted on lap 17. Sadler dodged some bullets as he made his way though the field back into the top-10 by lap 64.

The "M&M's"® crew turned out incredible pit stops throughout the race as they made adjustments on the car sending Sadler out in the top-5 after each stop.

The drama mounted as Sadler was in second place behind Jeff Gordon. Gordon brushed the wall and Sadler decided it was time to make his move for the lead. When he made a pass with 19 laps to go, both Sadler and Gordon were overtaken at the same time by a hard charging Kurt Busch. Apparently that was all the grip the "M&M's"® car had left on its tires as Sadler fell back to 7th on the grid to finish the day. Ricky Craven edged Kurt Busch at the stripe in a near photo finish.

"We ran inside the top five all day," said Sadler. "I hate it that our tires went away at the end there, but at least it's another great run. I can't complain -- had a great car, and everything was there. It just wasn't our day to win it, but our day will come soon."

The finish marks the third top ten finish for the "M&M's"® team in the first five races of 2003. Sadler moves up from 19th to 10th in the Winston Cup point standings with some momentum heading to Bristol -- the site of Sadler's first Winston Cup win.

-ryr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ricky Craven , Elliott Sadler