Sadler gets first win of season at Texas

Sadler gets first win of season at Texas

Elliott Sadler held off the stampeding No. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne to propel the No. 38 Ford into victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway. The finish was a nail-biter as the No. 30 lapped car of Johnny Sauter crossed the path of Sadler in the final...

Elliott Sadler held off the stampeding No. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne to propel the No. 38 Ford into victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway. The finish was a nail-biter as the No. 30 lapped car of Johnny Sauter crossed the path of Sadler in the final turn of the final lap, which almost allowed the Kahne to steal the win.

Kasey Kahne makes a move on Elliott Sadler.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
Smart maneuvering on Sadler's part kept Kahne at bay as the two came down the final stretch door-to-door, Sadler squeaked over the finish by just a nose to earn his first win in his last 108 starts. It is sweet relief for the No. 38 team, who has been knocking on the door of victory lane for weeks, but hasn't been able to seal the deal. The last time Sadler gained the race trophy was in 2001 at Bristol driving for the Woods Brothers.

"Clean air is such a very important part of running good here at Texas because it's such a fast track and it just worked out good for us," Sadler said. "They got us a good pit stop. Due to the 24's misfortune got us out in clean air and I was coaching Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as much as I could to hold the 9 off as long as he could because I knew he would be coming and once he got around, boy, he started making up a lot of time.

"I was trying to hit my marks and go as fast as I can and I was just lucky enough to hold him off. I probably messed up in turns three and four more than I should. He shouldn't even have gotten beside me, but I was so focused on the 30 car because I didn't know what in the world he was doing racing the leaders like he was and I was so focused on him that I really forgot about the 9 car.

"I almost lost the race doing that, so that's something I'll always keep in the back of my head."

Kahne scored second. It seems like Kahne is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, this is his third top-two finish of the season.

"The aero push here is tough," said Kahne. "The 38 car was good, and once I got to him I was really tight. I would never be able to pass him unless I started trying the outside. I could get to him, but I was a little too tight. With about three or four laps to go I had a run off turn four. I used up the chassis. I don't know if I'm tired of it (finishing second), but I'm tired of running second by .1 or .01 or whatever it ends up being. Hopefully next time we can be the winners on that side of it."

Jeff Gordon.
Photo by James Spires.
Jeff Gordon garnered his best finish this season, with a third place result.

"I'm trying not to be too bummed out," said Gordon, who led 47 laps. "It's a great finish for the Dupont Chevy, the alternator started to drain the battery, I hit every switch and it came back to life. Unfortunately we had to let those guys go."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. trying to bounce back from a $10,000 fine and loss of 25 points from an incident last weekend grabbed fourth place.

"We didn't have a good car," said Earnhardt. "We didn't have a lot going for us today. A lot of mistakes on pit road, and I couldn't get them the information I needed to get the car right. We were just real lucky at the end to catch that caution and be out on the racetrack, get a lot of guys a lap down. We are real lucky to be in the top five today."

Rusty Wallace rounds out the top five finishers.

"The crew was good," commented Wallace. "I was real happy with them. They did a good job. It just got too tight all day long. I can't believe how loose we had that car. We raised the track bar an inch, took six rounds of wedge out, let four pounds of air out of the right front tire and put three pounds in the right rear, and it just got right at the end of the race.

"We kept working on it. It was a good team effort to keep working on the car and make it quick."

Kahne was the class of the field today, leading a race-high 148 laps, but Jeff Gordon gained the lead of the event after a yellow flag at lap 266 during a cycle of green flag pit stops. Leader Kahne and several other top five cars were all trapped a lap down when Ward Burton's No. 0 Chevy hit the wall.

That sent Gordon to the catbird seat, followed by Sadler and Earnhardt, Jr. Kahne's luck continued, as he was deemed the first car one-lap down, and was sent back to the lead lap at the end of the longest line under NASCAR's "lucky dog" rule.

Gordon led the event until lap 307, when the No. 24 slipped backed through the top four with alternator issues. That allowed Sadler in the No. 38 Ford to sail into the lead, putting a one second cushion between the RYR Ford and the rest of the top five.

Kahne came from ninth to second like a man on fire, but just didn't have the juice in the No. 9 Dodge to catch Sadler. It was sheer jubilation in the 38 pit, as Sadler locked his second career victory and the first in over a year for Robert Yates Racing (Rockingham 2003).

"Kasey (Kahne) raced me clean," said Sadler. "It's a great place, one of my favorite tracks. I am so proud of everyone involved with this race team.

"It's unbelievable, I've always had a good knack for this track, so a good win is just very, very special."

Kurt Busch climbs to the top of championship rankings, 19 markers over Matt Kenseth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (35 points behind), Tony Stewart (86) and Elliott Sadler (90) complete the top five in point standings.

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Series NASCAR-CUP