Elliott Sadler and the Textron Aviation team took the checkered flag in 18th place Saturday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway in the Ticket Galaxy 200. Through points, Sadler secured his place in the Championship 4 and will drive for the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship title next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
After starting 13th at the 1-mile oval, Sadler raced his way into the top 10 by lap 8. It was only 11 laps later that the veteran driver reported ill-handling on his No. 1 Chevrolet. Remaining focused, the Textron Aviation driver held onto the top 10 before slipping back to 15th. Once again, Sadler came over the radio to relay his thought of possible shock trouble. It wasn’t until the stage end that the Textron Aviation Chevrolet came down pit road for adjustments. It was the 15th-place running position that the team would finish in for Stage One.
Stage Two brought a similar fight for Sadler and his JR Motorsports team. The Virginia native was able to make his way back into the top 12 after handling improvements, but would once again slip back to 15th. On lap 95 the No. 1 driver reported his Chevrolet remained numb in the front end, but the changes did help. When the stage-ending caution was displayed, Sadler was in 15th.
Before the final stage of the race, Kevin Meendering (crew chief) made the call for a longer pit stop to make a shock adjustment. Sadler restarted 17th and drove his way back into 13th place by lap 150. When the caution flag waved just 20 laps later, the Textron Aviation Chevrolet came down pit road for fresh tires, fuel and another adjustment. With some teams opting to take only right-side tires, Sadler moved to 17th place. Knowing they only needed to complete the race in order to advance in the series playoffs, Meendering told Sadler to race smart and avoid any possible incidents. When the race concluded, Sadler and the Textron Aviation team was in 18th. Through their strong finishes and consistency all season long, the team claimed their spot in the Championship 4.
JRM teammate William Byron won the 200-mile event, followed by Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Christopher Bell and Daniel Hemric to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 Textron Aviation team:
“I’m so proud of this team and all of their hard work week-in and week-out. We’ve had one goal all season long and that was to compete in Homestead as part of the final four. Now, it’s time to add to our regular season champion title and win the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.”