Pit strategy -- in the form of not pitting -- paid off for Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne with about 30 laps to go in the Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. With track position for the final restart, Sadler stayed up front to claim the win in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and Kahne drove the No. 38 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet to a second-place finish.
"We knew the most important thing was where we started on the restart," Sadler's crew chief, Luke Lambert, said.
"I wanted this one worse than anything, because I love this track.
Brad Keselowski finished third in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, and pole sitter Joey Logano was fourth in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Kahne spent most of the race well outside the top-five, battling an ill-handling race car most of the day.
"Today, we were on the splitter hard," Kahne said. "We just had to keep working on it. Track position really helped. I was at my worst the first 30 laps of a run."
Logano led the first 67 laps of the race, followed by Trevor Bayne in second in the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. But after working his way toward the front from an eighth-place starting spot in the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, Kyle Busch got by both Bayne and Logano to take the lead on lap 68.
Busch's stint at the front of the field ended during the first caution that came out a third of the way through the 300-lap race. Logano got back to the top spot by beating Busch off pit road during yellow-flag pit stops.
Busch dropped farther back soon after the race restarted as he battled a loose right front wheel that necessitated a green-flag pit stop on lap 135.
The extra stop put Busch a lap down, but he got back on the lead lap when the next caution came out just past the halfway point of the race. He took the wave-around as the leaders pitted to get back on the lead lap. Another caution just a few laps later allowed Busch and other cars that had taken the wave around on the previous caution to make their pit stops.
Bayne restarted with the lead, and his RFR teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 car, made his way to the second spot. The two teammates battled for the lead for several laps, and Stenhouse was finally able to claim the position with 76 laps to go. Keselowski took second from Bayne a few laps later.
After getting back on the lead lap and working his way back into the top-10, Busch made contact with the wall to bring out the final caution with under 40 laps to go.
The call to stay out as everyone else headed down pit road put Sadler and Kahne on the front row for the restart. Sadler pulled away when the green flag came back out, as Kahne held up everyone on fresher tires behind him.
"I thought with two tires, they were going to be able to go," Sadler said. "I was really worried about new tires."
The win was Sadler's second of the year, four races into the season.
"I wanted this one worse than anything, because I love this track," Sadler said. "To win two of the first four races is awesome.