NEWTON, Iowa – Elliott Sadler has made the transition from forgettable finish to memorable start in one week.
The NASCAR veteran suffered disappointment when a late wreck damaged his car and the chance for a third win last Friday at Darlington Raceway. He didn’t wait long to put himself in position for another victory.
Sadler claimed his second Coors Light Pole of the season, dashing to the fastest qualifying time Saturday for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway. It is also his second pole in three career races at the 0.875-mile track.
Sadler went from being one top drivers in practice to being the best when it counted. He recorded a fastest lap of 133.911 miles per hour, .6 seconds ahead of Sam Hornish Jr. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top three.
“I’m really proud of my guys to come here,” Sadler said. “We sat on the pole last fall and ran pretty well. It’s a good starting spot.”
Pole position has to soothe the sting from last week’s race when Joey Logano bumped Sadler during a restart with five laps left, sending Sadler into the outer wall and out of the race. He had to settle for 24th his worst finish of the season in front his mom, wife and other family members.
“It says a lot about our race team,” Sadler said. “There’s a lot of things that made last week a bad week. I felt we had a really good chance to win the race. We go from having a good chance to win the race and being close in the points battle with Ricky to now 23 points behind. That was tough.”
Sadler has a brief but successful history at Iowa Speedway, placing in the top five of both 2011 Nationwide races, including the pole and a third-place finish last August for the U.S. Cellular 250. He was able to handle the track and the windy conditions that came into play on Turn 3.
“It just pushed us into Turn 3 a little harder,” Sadler said. “I had to make some adjustments on my second lap because of that.”
Hornish caught the wall on that turn. He wasn’t blaming the conditions, but realized the hiccup may have cost him a spot.
“I drug the rear on the wall and unsettled the car,” said Hornish, who was bothered by the mishap and drove the second lap too hard. “I had to check up just a second and when you’re looking at a tenth of a second between first and second that’s all it took.”
Hornish secured his fifth top-10 of the season and second in two appearances at Iowa Speedway. Filling in for Brad Keselowski in August, Hornish led 50 laps in Newton.
Things have worked out well for Stenhouse at Iowa Speedway, and that didn’t change Saturday. Stenhouse posted a fast lap of 133.114. He liked his opening lap, slowing down after pressing too much on a slower second. The team made adjustments, but there is still work.
“I was really tight in practice,” said Stenhouse, praising his team for repairing the car after making slight contact with the wall during practice. “We got some of the tightness out of it. Just not all of it.”
It is his 10th start in the top-10 this season and gives him a shot at a third straight victory at Iowa Speedway, sweeping the Nationwide events here last year. He expects a fast and challenging field.
“We should have a good car,” Stenhouse said. “There’s a lot of good race cars this weekend.”