Elliott Sadler Finishes 13th in His Nashville Superspeedway Debut
Nashville Rookie Remains Five Points Out Of Championship Lead
LEBANON, Tenn. (April 24, 2011) - Elliott Sadler fought the handling of his racecar for the duration of the Nashville 300 at Nashville Superspeedway, wheeling the No. 2 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet to a hard-fought 13th-place finish. In the 16-year veteran's debut at the 1.333-mile track, Sadler's Chevrolet Impala transitioned from very tight to very loose, preventing the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship contender from earning his fifth consecutive top-five finish. Despite dropping three positions in the point standings, Sadler remains only five points outside of the points lead.
After starting the race in the eighth position, Sadler initially relayed to crew chief Ernie Cope that the No. 2 Hunt Brothers Pizza machine was extremely tight and the front tires were chattering. Dropping to the 12th position on lap 17, Sadler held the spot until the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 51 for debris. Bringing the No. 2 down pit road, the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) crew provided four tires, fuel and a major chassis adjustment to allow the car to turn more freely. Quick work by the crew allowed Sadler to pick up four positions and restart in the eighth position on lap 55.
When green-flag racing resumed, Sadler slipped back into the 13th position after only two laps. Stating that the Chevrolet Impala was still tight rolling through the center of the turns, he earned one spot, and then settled into the 12th position until green-flag pit stops began on lap 110. Bringing the Hunt Brothers Pizza machine to pit road on lap 111, Sadler took four tires, fuel and made a spring rubber adjustment. After pit stops cycled through under green, Sadler was once again in the 12th position when the second yellow flag for the day waved on lap 135 for a spin in turn two. Now the last car on the lead lap, Cope decided to make wholesale changes to the No. 2, taking on four tires, fuel, in addition to a spring rubber and shock adjustments.
The green flag waved on lap 139, but the field was once again under caution for debris only two laps later. Sadler stated that the car seemed a little better, so the team remained on track through the yellow, taking the green flag from the 11th position. With a few green-flag laps under his belt, Sadler relayed that the car was now tight in the middle but turning too loosely on entry and exit, and he once again slipped back to 12th, maintaining the spot until the caution flag waved on lap 170. Cope made the call for two tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and the addition of grille tape, and the quick stop put Sadler back on track in fourth when green-flag racing resumed on lap 174.
Sadler now sits sixth in the Nationwide Series Driver's Point standings, five points out of the championship lead.
Despite having track position on his side, Sadler once again lost positions, finding himself in eighth when the final caution flag of the race waved on lap 178. Remaining on track, Sadler restarted in the same position on lap 182, beginning a 43-lap green-flag stretch to the end. Dropping to 10th on lap 188, Sadler told Cope that he was losing grip on entry and exit, but he held his ground until sliding back to 12th on lap 202. Fighting hard to maintain the position with the loose-handling Chevrolet, it was with only three laps remaining that Sadler relinquished 12th, crossing the finish line in the 13th position.
Sadler now sits sixth in the Nationwide Series Driver's Point standings, five points out of the championship lead. Sadler will attempt to take over the points lead when the series returns to action next weekend at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on April 29th for the Bubba Burger 250.