Sadler surges late to third win of the year

All that stood between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and victory at Chicagoland Speedway were two caution flags.

Stenhouse’s No. 6 Ford was by far the most dominant car for much of the day, on Sunday. As the laps were winding down, all Stenhouse needed to do was complete his pit stop and hope that the rest of the cars on track stayed on track.

However, they didn’t. As Stenhouses car was getting service for the final time of the day, Brad Sweet in the No. 38 spun across the track bringing out the third caution of the day and trapping Stenhouse on pit road.

“The cautions didn’t fall our way,” Stenhouse Jr. said to ESPN crews after the race. “The cautions just didn’t fall our way all day today.”

After being trapped on pit road, Stenhouse was summoned back to 16th starting position for the restart.

For that restart, it was Elliott Sadler that had taken over the race lead and lead the field around the one and a half mile speedway, weary that in the back of the pack was Stenhouse, who had led the most laps, picking his way through the traffic.

With less than 15 laps to go, Stenhouse had fought back to the top-five and was knocking on the door for at least a podium finish. As Sadler continued to click the laps down, Stenhouse got by Justin Allgaier for second.

Sadler still hung onto over a second lead over Stenhouse, but Stenhouse was the fastest car on the track and closing in on the leader, and the win, at every corner.

With 10 laps to go it was just over a second lead for Sadler, with nine, under a second. Stenhouse was coming. Six laps to go and Sadler still had just under a second lead, but Stenhouse was much better than Sadler in the corners and it was going to be a fight for the finish.

But then, a fight for another position in the back of the field brought out the fifth and final caution of the day. As the cars of Sam Hornish Jr, Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan were racing for position, Hornish moved out to try and give Busch a little bump so they could both get past the No. 33 of Gaughan.

The bump was a little too much and sent Busch’s No. 54 into the 33 of Gaughan and that sent them both into the wall.

As the crushed cars of Busch and Guaghan rolled down and off the track, Stenhouse Jr who had led , had one more chance to crush the dreams of Sadler winning the STP 300, when the restart came for a green-white-checkered finish emerged.

“I knew I had to get a good restart,” Sadler said after the race to ESPN crews.

That good restart is exactly what Sadler got, when he got a push from behind, from last years winner, Allgaier. Sadler and Allgaier pulled away from Stenhouse as the last two laps got underway.

“I have to give a huge shoutout to Justin Allgaier,” Sadler said after the race about how he got the win. “He gave me a great and straight push.”

As Sadler pulled away from Allgaier, Stenhouse had pulled up to Allgaier for the battle for second. Those two battled much of the white flag lap as Sadler slowly pulled away from the field. In turns three and four, Stenhouse had finally cleared the No. 31 of Allgaier, but all he could do was watch the No. 2 pull off and take the checkered flag for the victory.

“We had a great car on the long runs,” Sadler said about his winning car. “Luke made great adjustments and got me better on the short runs.”

For Sadler he not only won the race, but also a $10,000 bonus in the Nationwide Series Dash for Cash program that is going on.

The win on Sunday was the third of the year, but his first since the series visited Bristol Motor Speedway back in March. Sadler was in a tight points battle with teammate Austin Dillon before the race, but was able to pad it as the series now begins to focus on their inaugural race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next Saturday.

Rounding out the top five today were Allgaier in third, Kenny Wallace in fourth and Michael Annett in fifth.

STP 300 Results: 

  1. Elliott Sadler
  2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  3. Justin Allgaier
  4. Kenny Wallace
  5. Michael Annett
  6. Austin Dillon
  7. Parker Kligerman
  8. Sam Hornish Jr.
  9. Cole Whitt
  10. Ryan Truex
  11. Brian Scott
  12. Mike Bliss
  13. Joe Nemechek
  14. Danica Patrick
  15. James Buescher
  16. Mike Wallace
  17. Travis Pastrana
  18. Timmy Hill
  19. Brad Sweet
  20. Josh Richards
  21. Johanna Long
  22. Jeremy Clements
  23. Jason Bowles
  24. Eric McClure
  25. Tayler Malsam
  26. Tanner Berryhill
  27. Kyle Busch
  28. Brendan Gaughan
  29. Jamie Dick
  30. Erik Darnell
  31. Benny Gordon
  32. Danny Efland
  33. Tim Schendel
  34. Morgan Shepherd
  35. Matt Carter
  36. Blake Koch
  37. Tim Andrews
  38. T.J. Bell
  39. Mike Harmon
  40. Chase Miller
  41. Stephen Leicht
  42. Carl Long
  43. Jeff Green
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