As top qualified finisher, No. 11 takes home $100,000 bonus
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Elliott Sadler works out in a sweatshirt, long johns and a knit cap, and with the temperature in his gym set to what he calls “screaming hot.” That kind of training paid off for him Saturday night, in a race that not only moved him up one position in Nationwide Series points, but also earned him an extra $100,000.
With a late push from Kurt Busch, Sadler snagged third place at Daytona International Speedway to win $100,000 under the circuit’s Dash 4 Cash program. Limited to the top-finishing four series regulars from last weekend’s event at Kentucky, Sadler bested Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, and Brian Vickers to earn the bonus and keep himself eligible for potentially more money down the road.
“I’m very happy about our performance tonight,” Sadler said. “… This is a big, big program for our series. And for those guys to do it four weeks in a row, and bring that much attention to our racing means a lot to me, means a lot to our owners, and means a ton to our sponsors.”
Now, the top-finishing four Nationwide regulars from Saturday -- Sadler, Dillon, Larson and Sam Hornish Jr. -- move into the next round at New Hampshire, where another $100,000 is at stake. As the first winner, Sadler remains alive for a much bigger payday: $1 million if he can sweep the remaining Dash 4 Cash events at New Hampshire, Chicagoland and Indianapolis.
Saturday, Sadler needed to overcome a cool box that went on the fritz just before the green flag, and started blowing hot air into his car. He said the situation was at its worst during a nearly 10-minute red flag, while Sadler sat in hot, stagnant air as crews cleaned up debris from a six-car accident. After the race he said he felt nauseated, and planned to take some oxygen in his motor coach.
The training, though, helped him get to the finish. “I don’t work out in shorts and T-shirts,” Sadler said. “It’s for reasons like tonight, just in case something like this happens.”
Sadler earned the bonus by finishing two positions better than Dillon, who thought he was racing Larson for the money. “I hate that,” Dillon said. “I actually thought I was racing Kyle there at the end, and didn’t know Elliott was two (positions) in front of us. I got Kyle at the line, but Elliott was up there. It’s so tough. You want these races to go green, because these races get jumbled up and you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Sadler, though, kept a keen eye on Dillon throughout the race, even choosing another lane late in the event because he didn’t want to push the driver of the No. 3 car to an extra $100,000.
“On the last restart, I knew Austin was second and we were fifth,” Sadler said. “… We decided to go to the bottom lane, because we didn’t want to help the 3 car, because we’re racing him for the Dash 4 Cash. You always kind of see where everybody’s at. It’s weird how that works. I’m so glad they put different-colored spoilers on there, too, because it really catches your eye. You definitely know who you’re racing and where they’re at on the race track.”