Elliott Sadler celebrated his 41st birthday Saturday with his first victory in almost two years.
Mired in a drought that dated to May 4, 2014, Sadler didn’t mind waiting through a five-minute post-race review by NASCAR to be named the winner of the Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR had to determine who was the actual leader when a caution froze the field in overtime. Brennan Poole crossed the finish line first, but was denied his first career Xfinity Series win when NASCAR said the field was frozen with Sadler still ahead of Poole.
“People don’t know how hard it is to win these races. It’s very emotional,” Sadler said in victory lane, choking back tears. “It’s a great birthday gift to me. Man, we needed this win.”
Sadler’s last victory, just four days shy of exactly two years ago, also was at Talladega.
Sadler was chasing leader Joey Logano on the final lap when Logano tried to block Sadler’s attempt at a pass for the victory. Logano went high for a block, then low, but Sadler spun him during the rapid lane changing. Logano’s car turned into the wall and created a crash that brought out the yellow flag.
“I had my plan made up, I tried to get to the outside of Joey and he made a great block,” said Sadler, who credited himself with “a great save” after contact with Logano sent Logano into the wall and Sadler had to avoid also wrecking.
Sadler is just the second Xfinity Series full-time driver to win this season. Sprint Cup drivers have won seven of the nine races this season.
With the victory, Sadler earns an automatic berth into the Xfinity Series’ inaugural Chase for the Championship.
Jeremy Clements finished a career-best fourth and was followed by Brendan Gaughan and Austin Dillon. Logano wound up 27th.
Wilkerson tops NHRA qualifying
Tim Wilkerson topped funny car qualifying Saturday in the NHRA SpringNationals with his record run Friday at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas.
Wilkerson had career- and track-record time of 3.899 at 327.59 in his Ford Shelby Mustang. The 2004 SpringNationals winner, he won this year in Arizona and North Carolina.
“We’re excited about how the season has started, of course,” Wilkerson said. “Hopefully, we can continue our string from Charlotte and not get beaten in any of the eliminations rounds. It’s been a great day and a great weekend so far. Going to try and cap it off tomorrow and bring home another Wally.”
Steve Torrence and Greg Anderson also led their divisions with their Friday runs.
In top fuel, Torrence claimed his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and third in a row with his track-record time of 3.724 at 329.42 on Friday. He won the opener in Pomona, California.
In pro stock, Anderson powered to his third No. 1 of the season with a 6.589 at 210.41 in a Chevy Camaro. He also has two victories this season.
Chase Elliott duplicates father’s feat
Chase Elliott won the pole at Talladega Superspeedway, 30 years after his father, Bill Elliott, did the same with a blistering qualifying run.
Chase Elliott turned a lap at 192.661 mph to put his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the top position for Sunday’s race. His father won the pole in 1986 with a lap at 212.229 mph.
Rosberg wins F1 pole
Formula One leader Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Russian Grand Prix while teammate Lewis Hamilton was 10th after a car failure ended his qualifying session at Sochi, Russia.
Rosberg and Hamilton traded fastest times in the first two sessions, but their contest ended abruptly when Mercedes said Hamilton had a repeat of the power-unit problem that left him at the back of the grid for the last race in China.
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