Elliott Sadler receives belated birthday gift; wins Aaron’s 312

TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 03: Elliott Sadler, driver of the #11 OneMain Financial Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
TALLADEGA, AL - MAY 03:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #11 OneMain Financial Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
TALLADEGA, AL – MAY 03: Elliott Sadler, driver of the #11 OneMain Financial Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, (Ala.) – Happy belated Birthday, Elliott Sadler.

Sadler, who celebrated his 39th birthday this past Wednesday (April 30) withstood several changes on a restart with three-laps to go in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 to score his 10th career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) victory at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

With some help from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular David Ragan, the two veterans were able to overpower Sunoco rookie Chris Buescher and JRM Motorsports pilot Regan Smith on the outside lane to send the Emporia, Virginia native back to victory lane for the first time since 2012.

“We stayed on the bottom, stuck to our guns, David Ragan did a good job of pushing us and we were able to hold those guys off at the end,” said a jubilant Sadler. “It means a lot for me to get this JGR team to victory lane. They’ve worked their butts off last year and we weren’t able to reward them. We have a lot of momentum on our side, we let one get away from us at Darlington, so to come back here and get one for all of our sponsors this is really good.”

Sadler in his sixth Talladega Nationwide Series start was a factor from the drop of the green flag, but had to dodge several on-track incidents and climb from the bottom half of the top-10 after his final trip to pit lane, following a caution on Lap 83 for a solo spin by Eric McClure.

Roush Fenway Racing’s rookie Ryan Reed stole the lead from pole sitter Sam Hornish Jr. on Lap one and held the point until the first caution flag waived on Lap 29 for debris. Pit strategy shuffled the leaders with Ty Dillon inheriting the lead after a two-tire stop.

Dillon would lead the field back to green, before Sadler and Sunday’s pole sitter Brian Scott duked it out three laps later for possession of the lead. Meanwhile, a few positions behind them, Ryan Blaney in the No. 22 for Team Penske made contact with the No. 99 of James Buescher triggering a five car incident on Lap 44.

The yellow provided another opportunity for the field to come to pit road for tires, fuel and adjustment, with Blaney leading the parade back to green flag conditions. Meanwhile, Sadler and Scott came roaring back to the front line, shuffling for the lead over the next 10 laps before Scott was tapped by the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne on Lap 63 igniting a 10-car incident.

Sadler would maintain the lead on the restart until McClure’s issue, which gave the lead to Daytona winner Regan Smith. He would lead the field over the next 20 laps before David Starr driving for TriStar Motorsports would use a push following Lap 104 restart to assert himself into first, but not before rookie sensation Chase Elliott took his turn at the front on the same lap that Chad Boat wrecked on the backstretch on Lap 108.

With a majority of the field staying out, Elliott, Starr and Sadler would become the three drivers out front and found themselves battling for the win inside the final five laps.

Following the restart, the momentum of the lead pack would be stalled on Lap 113 when Ryan Blaney lost control of his No. 22 Ford and collected five others. Quickly, NASCAR would display the red flag to ensure a scheduled distance conclusion. After a nine minute and five second pause, the field returned to caution.

With the green flag in the air for the final time, Sadler with pressure from all angles would fend off his challengers to deliver Joe Gibbs Racing its third win of 2014.

Buescher was a career-best second ahead of Regan Smith, Ragan and Hornish Jr to make up the top-five.

“Congratulations to Elliott Sadler, but this Roush Performance Mustang was awesome all weekend,” said Buescher, after his Nationwide restrictor plate debut. “We knew we had a good piece, we just had to pull through with it. Regan Smith pushed me at the end. That’s about all you can ask for because I’m still very new to this speedway racing, so to be able to pull off a second is really cool to me. We got the finish we deserved today.”

Joe Nemechek, J.J. Yeley, Landon Cassill, Starr and Bayne comprised the remainder of the top-10.

After nine races, Elliott continues to lead the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings ahead of Sadler (-1), Smith (-3), Bayne (-31) and Dillon (-31).

Next up for the NASCAR Nationwide Series is a trip to Iowa Speedway for the running of the Get To Know Newton 250 presented by Sherwin-Williams on Sunday, May 18.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Race – Aaron’s 312

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Saturday, May 03, 2014

1. (2) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 117, $58020.

2. (8) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 117, $48925.

3. (32) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 117, $35675.

4. (13) David Ragan(i), Ford, 117, $26025.

5. (1) Sam Hornish Jr, Toyota, 117, $35900.

6. (38) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 117, $27825.

7. (34) JJ Yeley, Dodge, 117, $26625.

8. (12) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 117, $25975.

9. (16) David Starr, Toyota, 117, $25350.

10. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 117, $26475.

11. (36) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 117, $25100.

12. (19) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 117, $24975.

13. (15) John Wes Townley(i), Toyota, 117, $18800.

14. (29) Tommy Joe Martins, Dodge, 117, $18625.

15. (7) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 117, $25150.

16. (39) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 117, $24575.

17. (18) Eric McClure, Toyota, 117, $24250.

18. (5) Dakoda Armstrong #, Ford, 117, $24325.

19. (37) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 117, $23975.

20. (27) Ryan Sieg #, Chevrolet, 117, $24550.

21. (6) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 116, $23850.

22. (31) Kasey Kahne(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 111, $17520.

23. (33) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 111, $23370.

24. (4) Ryan Reed #, Ford, 108, $23470.

25. (40) Chad Boat #, Chevrolet, Accident, 107, $23570.

26. (24) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 91, $22920.

27. (17) Jamie Dick, Chevrolet, 87, $22795.

28. (26) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Accident, 86, $16670.

29. (9) James Buescher, Toyota, 86, $22520.

30. (20) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 78, $16595.

31. (3) Darrell Wallace Jr(i), Toyota, 74, $22595.

32. (22) Robert Richardson Jr, Chevrolet, Engine, 63, $22170.

33. (10) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, Accident, 61, $22135.

34. (11) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Accident, 61, $22100.

35. (28) Dylan Kwasniewski #, Chevrolet, Accident, 43, $22055.

36. (30) Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, Engine, 31, $14730.

37. (35) Carl Long, Dodge, Electrical, 14, $20695.

38. (25) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 4, $14661.

39. (23) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, Vibration, 3, $14525.

40. (14) Blake Koch, Toyota, Vibration, 1, $14425.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  131.224 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 22 Mins, 18 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.124 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 29 laps.

Lead Changes:  27 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:    0; R. Reed # 1-29; B. Gaughan 30; T. Dillon # 31-33; E. Sadler 34-39; B. Scott 40-41; E. Sadler 42; B. Scott 43-45; J. Clements 46; J. Gase 47; R. Blaney(i) 48-49; B.  Scott 50; E. Sadler 51; B. Scott 52; E. Sadler 53; B. Scott 54; E. Sadler 55-57; B. Scott 58-59; E. Sadler 60-66; J. Yeley 67; E. Sadler 68-83; R. Smith 84-103; D. Starr 104-107; C. Elliott # 108-110; D. Starr 111; E. Sadler 112-115; C. Buescher # 116; E. Sadler 117.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  E. Sadler 9 times for 40 laps; R. Reed # 1 time for 29 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 20 laps; B. Scott 6 times for 10 laps; D. Starr 2 times for 5 laps; C. Elliott # 1 time for 3 laps; T. Dillon # 1 time for 3 laps; R. Blaney(i) 1 time for 2 laps; J. Yeley 1 time for 1 lap; J. Clements 1 time for 1 lap; J. Gase 1 time for 1 lap; C. Buescher # 1 time for 1 lap; B. Gaughan 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: C. Elliott # – 339; E. Sadler – 338; R. Smith – 336; T. Bayne – 308; T. Dillon # – 308; B. Scott – 277; B. Gaughan – 250; J. Buescher – 244; C. Buescher # – 229; R. Reed # – 225.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.