Elliott Sadler and the U.S. Cellular team brought home a sixth-place finish after starting from the pole on Saturday evening in the U.S. Cellular 250. The pole award was JR Motorsports’ second of the 2018 season and Sadler’s fourth career at Iowa Speedway. With the finish, Sadler moves up to second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings and holds onto his fourth-place seed in the NXS Playoff standings.
After a strong qualifying run, earning the pole award, the No. 1 team began the 250-lap race with great momentum. When the first caution of the day was displayed on lap 20, Sadler reported his Camaro was free on exit and tight rolling into the center. The U.S. Cellular team, however, elected to stay out in order to take the restart in first place. Sadler lead the opening 26 laps, but fell to second by the completion of the restart lap. The veteran driver remained in the second-place running position until the conclusion of the first stage on lap 60.
Under the stage-ending caution, Sadler came to pit road for fresh tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. When Stage Two began, the U.S. Cellular Chevrolet was in second place. With adjustments being made in the right direction, Sadler retook the lead and paced the field for the next 15 laps. As the track began to change, the U.S. Cellular Chevrolet became looser on exit. Sadler worked to battle through the tough-handling condition, but slowly began to slip back as he relayed he had no rear grip. When the second stage ended, Sadler was in eighth place.
A quick pit stop by the No. 1 pit crew kept the U.S. Cellular Camaro in eighth for the start of the final stage. Sadler then began making his way back through the field and once again into the top five. On lap 200, crew chief Kevin Meendering called his driver down pit road for a scheduled pit stop. Once the green-flag stops cycled through, the No. 1 Chevrolet was running in the sixth position. Before the conclusion of the race, two late-race cautions were displayed. Through them, the No. 1 Chevrolet remained on track and raced among the top 10. When the checkered flag waved in overtime, the U.S. Cellular team was in the sixth position.
Christopher Bell crossed the finish line first followed by Justin Allgaier, Kyle Benjamin, Ross Chastain and John Hunter Nemechek to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver U.S. Cellular team:
“We unloaded a really fast Chevrolet and it’s always fun to back that up and start from the pole. We had a solid Stage One and got too loose in Stage Two. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) made great adjustment calls, but we just couldn’t keep up with the track changes. In the end, we needed more rear grip. We’ll take this finish and see what we can do in Watkins Glen next weekend.”
Laps Completed (Led): 257 of 257 (41)
Points (Bonus): 43 (0)
Point Standings (from leader): 2nd (-16)