Sadler roars to Nationwide win at Talladega
May 03, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Joe Gibbs Racing driver navigates chaos to first win of season
The win was Sadler's 10th in the series, first of the season and first on the 2.66-mile track. He led nine times for 40 laps in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota and was just 0.125 seconds ahead of runner-up Chris Buescher in a characteristically close-quarters finish that has become the track's trademark.
"We just got on the inside line there and we just had to make some good moves," Sadler said. "The sea kind of opened up for us. This means a lot to me to be able to get these guys to Victory Lane. To do it at Talladega -- everybody always asks me about flipping at Talladega. Now we won one at Talladega so it feels a lot better."
Buescher, who crossed under the white flag in a near dead-heat alongside Sadler, was a career-best second place in just his 17th Nationwide start. Regan Smith, David Ragan and Sam Hornish Jr. completed the top five.
A late flurry of crashes whittled the field of contenders, including a wreck involving six cars at the front that triggered a red flag with 112 of the 117 laps complete. Ryan Blaney collided with leader Sadler and smacked the outside wall in Turn 3. Kasey Kahne and Jeremy Clements absorbed the most damage, with rookie Chase Elliott -- the Nationwide Series points leader -- and Ryan Sieg also involved.
That caution period forced a restart with three laps left, setting up the dramatic finish.
"It was wild, that's for sure," Buescher said. "It was just a matter of holding on to what we had at that point. I didn't want to do anything crazy. Regan Smith pushed me great right there 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."
The first one-third of the race ran relatively cleanly until a four-car wreck brought out the second caution flag to slow the pace. James Buescher spun in Turn 3 off the front bumper of Blaney in the 42nd lap, collecting rookies Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Reed and Dylan Kwasniewski in the aftermath. Reed had led the first 29 laps before the first caution period -- for debris -- flew to jumble the field.
A 10-car wreck in the 60th lap knocked out more contending drivers, including Brian Scott, who led six times for 10 laps. Scott's No. 2 Chevrolet was turned sideways after a bump from Trevor Bayne, and the ensuing melee snared all the Richard Childress Racing cars -- Scott, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan -- plus Kyle Larson, Reed, Chad Boat, Robert Richardson Jr., Joey Gase and Mike Harmon.
"Anybody that's done superspeedway racing knows you can't do that," Scott said of Bayne's contact with his car's bumper entering the turn. "Stupid move halfway through the race. There's no need for it. ... It's unfortunate when you're a victim of stupidity."
Elliott finished 19th -- the next-to-last driver on the lead lap -- and retained the lead in Nationwide standings by just one point over Sadler.