(WOMR file photo)
Elliott Sadler survived/won, however you want to look at it, Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
Sadler, for whom it was his 10th series victory, first of the season, and the very first victory at Talladega, led nine times for a race-best 40 laps.
“We stayed on the bottom (on a final restart), stuck to our guns, David Ragan did a good job of pushing us and we were able to hold those guys off at the end,” said a jubilant Sadler. “It means a lot for me to get this JGR team to victory lane. They’ve worked their butts off last year and we weren’t able to reward them. We have a lot of momentum on our side, we let one get away from us at Darlington, so to come back here and get one for all of our sponsors this is really good.”
Chris Buescher, who crossed under the white flag in a near dead-heat alongside Sadler, was a career-best second place in just his 17th Nationwide start.Regan Smith, David Ragan and Sam Hornish Jr. completed the top five finishing order.
A late flurry of crashes whittled the field of contenders, including a wreck involving six cars at the front that triggered a red flag with 112 of the 117 laps complete. Ryan Blaney collided with leader Sadler and smacked the outside wall in Turn 3. Kasey Kahne and Jeremy Clements absorbed the most damage, with rookie Chase Elliott — the Nationwide Series points leader — and Ryan Sieg also involved.
That caution period forced a restart with three laps left, setting up the dramatic finish.
The first one-third of the race ran relatively cleanly until a four-car wreck brought out the second caution flag to slow the pace. James Buescher spun in Turn 3 off the front bumper of Blaney in the 42nd lap, collecting rookies Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Reed and Dylan Kwasniewski in the aftermath. Reed had led the first 29 laps before the first caution period — for debris — flew to jumble the field.
A 10-car wreck in the 60th lap knocked out more contending drivers, including Brian Scott, who led six times for 10 laps. Scott’s #2 Chevrolet was turned sideways after a bump from Trevor Bayne, and the ensuing melee snared all the Richard Childress Racing cars — Scott, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan — plus Kyle Larson, Reed, Chad Boat, Robert Richardson Jr., Joey Gase and Mike Harmon.
Chase Elliott finished 19th, the next-to-last driver on the lead lap, and retained the lead in Nationwide standings by just one point over Sadler!
Check out the unofficial results of the Aaron’s 312.
Check out the Nationwide standings after the Aaron’s 312.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!