Elliott Sadler and the OneMain Financial team brought home a hard-fought fifth-place finish in the Sparks Energy 300 on Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. After claiming the highest finish of the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash drivers, the No. 1 team earned their second consecutive $100,000 D4C prize and qualified themselves for the final Xfinity D4C event in Dover. This finish continues Sadler’s top-10 finishing streak to start the 2018 season and retains his position as the NXS point standings leader.
Sadler qualified second for the 300-mile restrictor-plate event after advancing to the second and final round of single-car qualifying, but ultimately started from the rear of the field after changing engines due a leak following Friday’s practice sessions. Within four laps of the green-flag waving, the Emporia, Va. native made his way into the top five and relayed overall good handling of his OneMain Financial Chevrolet. The JR Motorsports driver ran with the top four throughout the stage until in the closing lap, he chose to test the field and dove to the bottom. With no one opting to run the low line with him, Sadler slowly began to slip back. When Stage One concluded on lap 25, Sadler was scored in the eighth-place running position.
Before Stage Two began, the OneMain Financial team made a fuel-only pit stop putting the team in sixth place for the restart. Sadler was quick to drive forward and was running third when the first non-stage-ending caution of the day was displayed. The OneMain Financial team elected to remain on track and hold their position. When the field restarted, Sadler drove his Chevrolet to the lead. The veteran driver led the field for the remainder of the stage, taking the green-and-white checkered flag in first place. The finish brought the No. 1 team their second playoff point of the season.
Once again, the OneMain Financial team came to pit road under the stage-ending caution. This time, the team gave their Chevrolet fresh right-side tires and fuel. Sadler restarted second, but jumped back to the lead by the completion of the opening lap. When green-flag pit stops began on lap 74, Sadler remained out front. While coming to pit road, Sadler sped up to avoid being clipped by the No. 42 Chevrolet who spun and was headed towards him. The additional push of the gas pedal put Sadler half a mile per hour over the speed limit, resulting in a pass-through penalty. With perseverance, the OneMain Financial team drove back into the top 20 after falling to 34th place. When the yellow flag waved on lap 106, the No. 1 team opted to stay on track and take the wave around in order to return to the lead lap. With the final restart being delayed due to competitors running out of fuel, Sadler moved further through the field. When the track returned to green, the OneMain Financial Chevrolet was in 14th place.
With the help of his teammate Justin Allgaier in the closing laps, Sadler was able to race his way into fifth place and pass Christopher Bell for the D4C victory. The finish was Sadler’s seventh top-five finish of the season and second consecutive D4C win.
Spencer Gallagher won the NXS superspeedway event and was followed by Brandon Jones, Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Sadler to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 OneMain Financial team:
“That’s an up and down day, for sure. We came from the back to fourth in five laps. We won the second stage. Then when the No. 42 wrecked when we went to pit under green, I sped up to avoid him clipping us. Obviously it costed us and we lost a lap from the penalty. My team never gave up and we came back to get another top-five finish and win the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash for a second week in a row. We have the OneMain Financial 200 next weekend and we’ll do all we can to win the $100,000 prize there too.”
Laps Completed (Led): 115 of 115 (30)
Points (Bonus): 45 (1)
Points Standings (from leader): 1st (+40)