Elliott Sadler gets back to victory lane at Talladega
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After leading a race-high 40 laps in the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday, Elliott Sadler went on to win his first Nationwide race since August 2012 and the first of his career at Talladega. Chris Buescher scored a career-best second-place finish and Regan Smith was third.
Sadler and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Darrell Wallace Jr. claimed the top-three starting spots in qualifying on Friday, but when race day rolled around, Ryan Reed got by all three of them on the first lap and led the way until the first yellow flag on lap 28. Sadler, though, took the lead on the restart that followed.
The JGR teammates remained at or near the front until Wallace saw his race end early when he got caught up in an incident with James Buescher and Dylan Kwasniewski on lap 44 of the 117-lap race.
"I tried to stay out of the storm of what happens here at Talladega," Wallace said.
Sadler and Hornish continued on up front as the JR Motorsports trio of drivers -- Smith, Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne raced up through the field after starting in the back. Smith took the lead when he got off pit road first during a caution on lap 83. Soon after the race restarted, his teammates were right behind him.
David Starr got out in front of the JRM trio and took the lead on a restart following a caution that came out with 19 laps remaining. But with 11 to go, Elliott moved up in front of the outside line of cars and was able to take the race lead just before the yellow flag waved with 10 laps to go. When the race restarted, Ryan Blaney pushed Starr back out to the lead and then took the top spot for himself.
One last caution, the seventh of the race, came out with just over five laps to go, prompting NASCAR to display the red flag to clean up after an incident involving Kahne and Blaney that also caused damage to Elliott's car.
"We had a really good Great Clips Chevrolet," Kahne said. "We were right in the middle of it the whole race."
When racing resumed, Sadler restarted in the lead, with Chris Buescher alongside in second. David Ragan pushed Sadler out front when the race restarted while Buescher got draft assistance from Smith. Once out front, Sadler seemed to block both lanes of traffic en route to the win.
"We just got on the inside line, there, and had to make some moves," Sadler said. "Under the red flag, I was thinking through all the scenarios."
Ragan finished fourth, and Hornish rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley, Landon Cassill, Starr and Trevor Bayne.