SADLER TAKES LATE LEAD AND HOLDS ON TO WIN BASHAS SUPERMARKETS 200
On his way to breaking a 91-race series non-winning streak, Elliott Sadler bided his time while others dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series field in the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday afternoon. With the help of a track bar adjustment and taking only left side tires on the last pit stop, Sadler drove his OneMain Financial Chevrolet past Brad Keselowski with 23 laps to go and held off Keselowski and fast-closing Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to win at the end.
It was Sadler's first Nationwide Series victory since October 31, 1998, when he won at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham.
"It's neat how far we've come (with crew chief Lucas Lambert) in only the second race of the year," said Sadler afterward.
From lap 53 to a caution flag on lap 164, Kevin Harvick in his South Point Casino & Hotel Chevrolet had too much speed for everyone. Harvick passed early leader Denny Hamlin and maintained control for all but five laps until a caution flag for debris on the track sent all the leaders to pit road on lap 165.
It was then that strategy took over. Hamlin took fuel only and recaptured the lead coming off pit road. Keselowski was second, Stenhouse third and Sadler fourth. Harvick's team was the only among the contenders to take four tires, which dropped him to seventh. He accepted his fourth place finish, saying, "Well, you live and learn (about the pit decision)."
After exchanging the lead with Trevor Bayne in the early going, Hamlin rocketed off to a big lead for 44 laps in his Game Stop/MASS3 Effect Toyota, putting 23 cars down at least one lap over the opening 30 circuits of the race. That included local favorite Danica Patrick, who was lapped in her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet on the 28th trip around the one-mile track. Patrick manged to battle a poor-handling car to finish 21st.
The first pit stops came after a lap-43 caution with 20 cars on the lead lap. Kyle Busch took two tires and soon was up to third, just behind a charging Harvick who caught Hamlin for the lead off turn 2 on lap 53. But, Busch's team deciding on a two-tire change would prove costly as he faded to as low as 15th before finishing 11th.
That first round of stops also cost Kasey Kahne in the Great Clips Chevrolet because a lugnut fell off the left front tire, and it dropped the second place car all the way to 15th. Kahne clawed his way back to the top-5 before nursing home a crippled car in the late going. So, he was unable to follow up last November's Nationwide victory at PIR or celebrate his sponsor's signing on as the new sponsor of this fall's Great Clips 200 Nationwide event here at Zoomtown USA.
Mark Martin won the pole for Sunday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race, which will begin tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. at Phoenix International Raceway. Some tickets remain available and can be purchased by logging on to www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com.