Elliott Sadler and the Armour Chili team brought home a second-place finish in the Firecracker 250 on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway. After finishing highest of series regulars in Stage One and earning his 10th top-five finish of the season, Sadler regained the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings lead – now leading by 12 markers over second place.
Sadler began the 250-mile event from fifth, his then current position in the owner point standings, after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. In the opening laps, the Emporia, Va. native remained quiet over the radio as the field drafted side-by-side. On lap 6 when the top-three cars went single file, Sadler was up to second place. Shortly thereafter, a run of momentum on the outside line brought the cars back to racing double-file. The Armour Chili Chevrolet ran among the top four before taking the green-and-white checkered flag in third for the conclusion of Stage One. Sadler and the No. 1 team were the highest-finishing team of NXS regulars.
Before Stage Two began, the Armour Chili team made their first stop down pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a tightening adjustment. Sadler restarted 10th after a few teams opted to make a fuel-only pit stop. With handling moving in the direction he needed, Sadler was back up to the fourth-place running position by lap 40. It was just under 10 laps later that the No. 1 Chevrolet got caught racing three-wide and slipped back to ninth. This is where the Armour Chili team would finish the second stage.
Crew chief Kevin Meendering made the call to have Sadler came to pit road once again under the stage-ending caution for two fresh tires. Within only two laps after restarting third, Sadler found himself in second place. With the help of his spotter, the Armour Chili driver found the momentum and took over the lead. Sadler held on to first place through a series of cautions as the closing laps neared. It was on the lap 93 restart that the second-place car received a stronger push, taking over first. A final caution on lap 98 put the race into overtime. Sadler raced forward as the field returned to green and fought three-wide for the lead. Ultimately when the checkered flag waved, the Armour Chili team was in second place.
Kyle Larson won the Fright night event and was followed by Sadler, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney and Kaz Grala to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 Armour Chili team
“I felt really good coming off of (Turn) 2, but there’s a lot of racing between there and Turn 4. The No. 24 car came out of nowhere and I just lost my momentum on the No. 42 (car). I’m devastated for my team and my partners. They deserve to be in Victory Lane.”