Elliott Sadler Celebrates His Birthday With An Epic Win In Talladegaby Hunter Thomas April 30, 2016
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Birthday boy, Elliott Sadler was declared the winner of the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday after NASCAR had to review the chaotic finish.
A series of cautions in the final laps of Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race set the field up for an incredible overtime finish. With the “big one” imminent, all chaos broke loose on the final lap as the field entered the tri-oval coming to get the checkered flag. Elliott Sadler was pushing leader, Joey Logano, when he made the winning move. Sadler faked to the high side and then shot to the inside to overtake Logano.
“I was very fortunate that I had Justin Allagier behind me,” Elliott said. “He restarted fifth on the restart, and I knew that he would stay with me until we got to the tri-oval, then we could make whatever moves we needed to make to try and win the race, so I felt like I could be aggressive and kind of make a strong move with Joey (Logano).
“I kind of played the move in my head that I wanted to happen: If one, I was pinned in traffic or if one, I was free, I was going to try and get to Joey’s bumper and try to push him out of the way from everybody and leave it between he and I. I was able to make a move to the top, and he made a great block and then I came back to the bottom under him.”
As Logano went to block, he and Sadler made contact, and Logano’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang was sent out of control towards the outside wall. In a scary crash, Blake Koch, with nowhere to go, nailed Logano, sending him flying through the air. Logano walked away from the carnage but was scored a disappointing 27th after running up front all race long.
“We crashed pretty hard,” Logano said. “It is just typical superspeedway racing in the XFINITY Series racing for the win at the end. I know Elliott (Sadler) is a great speedway racer, and he knew what he had to do to win the race, and I knew what I had to do to try to keep him behind me. He went to make the move on the top and then he pulled it down to the bottom and got it underneath me and then I was a little late to the block. He was already there. Around I went and hit a bunch of other stuff along the way.”
Elliott continued and limped his car across the finish line. Brennan Poole, who was being pushed by Jeremy Clements crossed the finish line first, but after further review, NASCAR was able to determine that Sadler was ahead of the field when the caution came out, making him the official race winner. Poole, who has come up through the Late Model ranks was scored third at the end of the afternoon.
“It’s just really cool to be able to have an opportunity at a win,” Poole said. “I thought we were way to the good, but that’s just how it is. Congrats to Elliott (Sadler). He’s a former Late Model Stock guy like myself, so it’s cool to see him win. We were a little short. The car was great man, all day, we were right there. It was a lot of fun racing with Joey and Elliott and all of these guys. This is awesome.”
The win is Elliott’s 11th career victory in the series, and it came on his 41st birthday. Sadler only led one lap throughout the race, but it was the one that counted. The race was extremely special to him because not only was it his first for JR Motorsports, but his wife and two children were able to celebrate in Victory Lane with him.
“Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. gave me a great opportunity, and I’ve got one heck of a race team,” said Sadler in Victory Lane. “We had so many people here today from OneMain, longest running sponsor in this series, the XFINITY Series. They sit behind us through thick and thin. Man, we’re enjoying it here today. I’m so happy – great birthday gift to me, but what beats anything is that my wife and kids are here with me. We needed this win, I told everybody this morning that we got the car to win this with, and things went our way, had a little luck and we were able to make it at the end.”
Justin Allgaier was scored second at the end of the race, followed by Poole. Jeremy Clements earned his first career top-five finish in the series after finishing fourth. Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top-five. Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft and Chase Elliott completed the top-10.
Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez are now tied in the championship point standings. With the win, Sadler has the tiebreaker. Ty Dillon sits third, trailing the lead by 33 points. Justin Allgaier is fourth, 34 points back, and Brendan Gaughan is fifth, 35 points back from the lead.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will have next weekend off but will be back in action on Saturday, May 14 at Dover International Speedway. Live coverage for the event will broadcast on FIX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images