Elliott Sadler and the Hunt Brothers Pizza team took the checkered flag in 11th place on Saturday afternoon at ISM Raceway in the Whelen Trusted to Perform 200. With playoff contender Christopher Bell taking the checkered flag, who was originally below the Championship 4 cutline, Sadler was bumped into the fifth position in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings.
After advancing into the third and final round of qualifying, Sadler started at the 1-mile oval in sixth. It was only 13 laps into the event that the veteran driver reported ill-handling on his No. 1 Chevrolet. Remaining focused, the Hunt Brothers Pizza driver held onto the top 10 before contact was made with the No. 40 car, causing right-front damage to Sadler’s Camaro. It wasn’t until the stage end that the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet came down pit road four tires, adjustments and repairs. When the first stage did conclude, the No. 1 team was in the 11th-place running position.
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 15 after handling improvements and repairs to the Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet following the two pit stops made between stages. However, on lap 72, Sadler reported his Chevrolet was beginning to grow tighter and tighter as the run continued. Crew chief Kevin Meendering responded with words of encouragement and informed his driver that his team was going to take a bigger swing at the adjustments. When the stage-ending caution was displayed on lap 90, Sadler was in 16th place.
Before the final stage of the race began, Meendering made the call to bring Sadler down pit road for the teams planned adjustment, fresh tires and fuel. With a quick stop, the Hunt Brother Pizza team restarted 15th and raced their way back into the top 10 by lap 153. Through a series of cautions, Sadler remained on track, holding his position. The Hunt Brothers Pizza team relayed to Sadler that they were one point to the good if the No. 20 of Bell did not win. Sadler did what he needed to do, staying in his current points position, but with Bell earning the victory the driver fell below the cutline. Ultimately, when the race concluded, Sadler and the Hunt Brothers Pizza team were scored in the 11th position.
Bell won the Round of 8 finale and was followed by Daniel Hemric, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Ryan Preece to round out the top five.
Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 Hunt Brothers Pizza team: “I’m really disappointed. My guys deserve to be there at Homestead in contention for the championship. JR Motorsports did a great job all season long, putting great work into our Chevrolets. We’ll still go to Homestead and fight for the win in our last race as a team. Missing this year’s championship run, it’s on me.”