Elliott Sadler and the OneMain Financial team took the checkered flag in eighth place on Saturday afternoon in the 300-mile season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sadler concluded the 2017 season with a regular season championship, one pole award, 12 top-five finishes, 25 top-10 finishes and a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
The veteran driver rolled the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro off the grid for the 200-lap event in 14th place. In only 12 laps, Sadler was able to begin providing feedback to his OneMain Financial team in preparation for their first round of adjustments. The team’s driver reported overall good handling, but he was a little free off the turns. Throughout the stage, Sadler battled Championship 4 contender Daniel Hemric for the top position, but ultimately finished the stage one position behind him. It wasn’t until the end of Stage One, where the OneMain Financial team finished eighth, that Sadler came down pit road for adjustments, fuel and fresh tires.
After the quick pit stop by his OneMain Financial team, Sadler began Stage Two in eighth place. By lap 61, the Virginia native had made his way into the sixth-place running position and was racing JR Motorsports teammate William Byron for the top Championship 4 seed. Sadler relayed to his crew chief Kevin Meendering that the first set of changes helped the exit, but he was now needing help throughout the center. As Stage Two concluded, Sadler was scored in the sixth position.
The OneMain Financial team elected to visit pit road once again following the stage conclusion. When the final stage began, Sadler was in the fourth position—picking up two position on pit road. On the restart, the No. 1 driver jumped to third and became the top Championship 4 contender. Shortly after, Sadler was passed by Byron and began a great battle with his teammate for the next 50 laps. As the field remained green, the teammates put on a show. On lap 145, the OneMain Financial Chevrolet made a scheduled green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and another adjustment. The race continued between the teammates until Sadler was able to complete the pass for the top position on lap 164 and began to drive away. The OneMain Financial driver remained focused as he led the Championship 4 with 10 laps to go until the No. 18 of Ryan Preece held up the No. 1 Camaro. On lap 192, Byron passed Sadler and the No. 18 retaking the top seed. When the checkered flag waved, the OneMain Financial driver was in eighth place. Sadler finished the 2017 in second place overall, five points behind Byron.
Cole Custer won the NXS season finale, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Byron, Tyler Reddick and Preece to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 OneMain Financial team:
“It’s very frustrating to be that close to a championship and to be raced by someone not in contention. It gave William (Byron, teammate) the opportunity to get past us and let the championship slip away. It was the closet I’ve ever been. I’m devastated for myself and my team, but I’m happy for William and all of JR Motorsports for still bringing home the trophy.”