Race 33 of 33: Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 200 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 75 degrees
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick
Sadler’s Finish: 14th
Elliott Sadler and the OneMain Financial team finished the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and their final race together with a 14th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday evening. A late-race vibration with teammate Tyler Reddick out front forced the team to pit road from the top 10 to prevent a potential caution and the organization’s shot at the NXS title. A strong drive afterwards gained the No. 1 team five positions before the checkered flag waved. Sadler and team claimed one pole award, 14 top-five and 24 top-10 finishes, along with 207 lap led in their last season together.
The OneMain Financial team began the 200-lap event in seventh place after battling tight-handling conditions throughout qualifying. On lap 8, the Virginia native began providing feedback to his team, relaying that his Camaro was still tight through the center of each corner. Sadler worked to battle the tough handling as the stage remained caution free. When the green-and-white checkered flag waved on lap 45 to end the stage, Sadler was in ninth place.
Before Stage Two began, the OneMain Financial Chevrolet came to pit road for fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. When the race resumed, Sadler was in the 10th-place running position. Once again, Sadler was quick to report tight handling of his No. 1 Chevrolet, but added that the adjustments were heading in the right direction. The veteran driver remain focused, holding onto his top-10 position. When the second stage concluded, the OneMain Financial team was scored in the ninth position.
Under the Stage Two-ending caution, the OneMain Financial team made a pit stop for four tires, fuel and another loosening adjustment. Sadler took the restart for the final stage in 10th place and just over 12 laps later reported his Camaro was still a bit tight. With the green flag remaining over the racetrack, crew chief Kevin Meendering called Sadler to pit road on lap 142 for a scheduled green-flag pit stop. The team made further adjustments and gave the OneMain Financial Chevrolet four fresh tires. With 20 laps remaining, Sadler reported a tire vibration and returned to pit road as his teammate was out front and in contention for the championship. Sadler fell to 19th place with the additional pit stop, but gained five position before the conclusion of the race. When the checkered flag waved over the field, the OneMain Financial driver was scored in the 14th position.
Reddick won the season finale and third championship title for JRM. The rookie driver was followed by Cole Custer, John Hunter Nemechek, Daniel Hemric and Austin Cindric to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 OneMain Financial team:
“I felt the vibration and just didn’t know. I didn’t want to cost the No. 9 team the championship, so we decided to pit. Our Chevrolet was faster than our finish shows. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys and all of the hard work they’ve put into this team over the last few years. Dale and Kelley gave me an incredible opportunity. To end my full-time career with them, this team and our partners is something I’ll always remember. Thank you all.”