Elliott Sadler’s goal in Saturday’s Bar Harbor 200 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at Dover International Speedway was a simple one: guide his OneMain Financial Chevrolet to the best possible finish and advance to the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway in two weeks. That’s exactly what the Virginia native did, finishing a smooth 11th in the event on the 1-mile concrete oval and advancing to the next round in solid shape.
As the cutoff race for the first round of the Playoffs, Sadler was focused on advancing to the second round, and that played a role in strategy. Starting sixth in the pink-hued No. 1 Camaro--in support of breast cancer awareness—Sadler stayed just on the edge of the top five over the 45-lap Stage One, finishing there when the green-checkered flag waved over the speedway. Reporting to crew chief Kevin Meendering that his car was tight getting to the center of the corners and a bit loose off, Sadler came down pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments designed to help his entry and firm up rear grip. His OneMain Financial crew gained two spots on the exchange, and Sadler took the green flag for Stage Two in fourth place.
As the 45-lap Stage Two got under way, Sadler held sway in the top five before a problem surfaced getting back to the throttle. Sadler said the balance was good, but he couldn’t get back to the gas on exit because he didn’t have much in the way of rear security. As the run went on, the grip levels evened out, and the veteran driver held on to seventh at the finish of the stage. Sadler told Meendering that the rear tires did not feel secure, and that was affecting his exit off the bottom of Dover’s banked turns. Meendering called Sadler back in for four more tires and an adjustment, and sent him back out in eighth spot.
Over the final 110-lap stage, Sadler stayed in eighth spot until the caution waved on lap 162. During that span of green-flag laps, Sadler put together a string of laps that were the fastest in the field. Under caution, Sadler said that his OneMain Financial Camaro was tight at the three-quarter mark in the corners and he didn’t have a lot of rear grip. Meendering brought him back down pit road for four tires, fuel and another adjustment to get him to the finish.
Restarting ninth, Sadler stayed there until the next caution at lap 179, and on the ensuing restart lost two spots to 11th. He was in that spot when a couple of drivers battling for their Playoff lives approached. Sadler stayed in 11th spot until the checkered flag and moved safely to the Round of 8 with his finish.
Christopher Bell won the race, followed by Cole Custer, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Spencer Gallagher. Sadler is now fifth in points heading into the Round of 8.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 OneMain Financial team
“We had to be careful there at the end of the race. We weren’t in contention to win the race, so we just tried to finish as high as we could and move on to Kansas. Kansas and Texas are really good tracks for us. Our goal was to come here today, create some awareness for breast cancer and also make it to the next round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. That’s what we did.”
Laps Completed (Led): 200 of 200 (0)
Points (Bonus): 35 (0)
Standings (from leader): 5th (-76)