RICHMOND, Va. – To hear NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Elliott Sadler tell it, the addition of stages and the modification of the Dash 4 Cash format have had a profound effect on race strategy, because drivers and crews have to take both parts of the equation into account.
The top 10 drivers in each stage earn points, with the winner of the stage getting an additional playoff point that will carry through to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In addition, the top two Xfinity regulars in each stage earn eligibility for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, with the highest finisher among them at the checkered flag winning the money.
“We’ve actually changed our strategy a lot this year, based on the stage racing,” Sadler said. “We didn’t really know how much we’d change it until we actually got to Daytona and saw how different everybody races, getting close to the ends of the stages.
“That’s what’s neat about this Dash 4 cash race (Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond). We’ve actually got a couple things going on. Yes, we’re trying to get qualified for the Dash 4 Cash, but we’re also trying to get bonus points for the stages, too.”
All that adds a layer of complexity to the decision-making process.
“We’re just kind of playing it by ear—what decision can we make to best benefit us? It’s definitely changed the way we’re looking at the races, not just from the Dash 4 Cash side, but also the stage racing side. There’s a lot of points to be made, and now that you know you’re going to be saved by a caution, you can be more aggressive.
“We can be more aggressive on pit road. We can take more chances, because we know there’s a caution coming out to save us.”