Elliott Sadler and the Armour Chili team battled adversity during the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 to claim a fourth-place finish Saturday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. The finish, which is his seventh consecutive top-10 finish of the season, is a series-high for the driver for a start to a season. Sadler remains the points leader for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and will be one of four drivers competing in next weekend’s Dash 4 Cash event at Richmond.
After starting 13th at the 0.533-mile speedway, Sadler was quick to begin making his way towards the top 10. Just five laps into the race, the Armour Chili driver relayed to his team that he was a bit tight but overall his Camaro was handling really well. When the competition caution was displayed on lap 45, Sadler was in eighth place. It was then that the No. 1 team made their first stop on pit road for four tires and fuel. The Armour Chili Chevrolet took the restart in seventh place and completed four laps before getting clipped by No. 42 car, receiving damage. Crew chief Kevin Meendering made the call to bring Sadler down pit road twice for repairs, which resulted in the team going one lap down. It didn’t take long, however, for Sadler to race his way into the Lucky Dog position before the stage end. When Stage One concluded, the Armour Chili team was in 24th place and received the free pass to return to the lead lap.
The Armour Chili team began Stage Two in 22nd after opting to visit pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and additional repairs. With perseverance, the team worked their way back to the top 10. On lap 139, Armour Chili spotter Brett Griffin relayed to Sadler that his lap times were fastest of the field. Through a series of cautions, the No. 1 Chevrolet remained on track as Sadler liked the handling. With just 10 laps before the stage-end, the Virginia native was in eighth place. Unfortunately, the Armour Chili driver locked his tires while driving into Turn 1 and fell back to 15th place. This is where Sadler would be scored for Stage Two.
Once again under the stage-ending caution, the team elected to visit pit road for a fresh set of Goodyear tires and fuel. The fast stop put the No. 1 JR Motorsports team in 11th place for the final stage at Bristol. When the field reached 100 laps to go, Sadler was racing his teammates Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick among the top eight. On lap 256, the veteran driver made his way into the top five. Knowing he needed to claim one more position to qualify for next weekend’s Dash 4 Cash event at Richmond, he continued his drive forward. It was with 30 laps remaining that Sadler made the pass to claim both a fourth-place finish and a spot in next weekend’s Dash 4 Cash event.
Ryan Preece won the NXS event and was followed by Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Sadler and Spencer Gallagher to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 Armour Chili team:
“Man, that’s what you call battling back. I’m proud of everybody on this Armour Chili team— we kept fighting and we never gave up. My car was a rocket today, especially on long runs. We just couldn’t get it to go like we needed it to on those short runs. All-in-all, it was a solid day for our No. 1 JR Motorsports team, coming back from getting caught in a wreck and going a lap down to finishing fourth. We’ll take this momentum and go home to my sweet home of Richmond. I’m looking forward to the chance of winning some Dash 4 Cash money at my home track.”
Laps Completed (Led): 300 of 300 (0)
Points (Bonus): 33 (0)
Points Standings (from leader): 1st (+6)