TALLADEGA, Ala. – Most of Elliott Sadler’s memories of Talladega Superspeedway are unpleasant. They either involve a horrific 2003 crash in which his car flipped several times and slid forever through the grass on its roof, or many different ways he’d come up empty racing for a win.
Finally, he has a victory that tops all those other disappointments.
I have such a love-hate relationship with this racetrack. We always run good here, but I always doggone flip or wreck or hit hard or something, Sadler said in Victory Lane. Every autograph session, everywhere I go, everybody always reminds me of the flip I had down the backstraighaway here. Now maybe they can ask me about winning here.
Sadler won a three-lap shootout to the checkered flag in the Nationwide Series race.
The race Saturday was stopped for a little more than nine minutes to clean the track after a six-car accident that began when Jeremy Clement was turning into an outside wall and his car shot back into traffic.
Sadler reflected on many of his previous races during the stoppage.
Under the red flag, I was playing all these scenarios in my head, said Sadler, running his second season with Joe Gibbs Racing. Really, how many races I’ve lost in the last couple laps not making the right decisions.
Three laps remained on the restart, and Sadler had to throw several blocks to hold off a charge from the pack of traffic behind him.
It was the 10th Nationwide Series victory of Sadler’s career, first at Talladega, and first win since 2012.
We just stayed to the bottom and stuck to our guns, Sadler said of his strategy. We made the right blocks at the right time.
Chris Buescher finished second and Regan Smith, winner of last year’s race, was third.
Sadler’s win ended a three-race winning streak for JR Motorsports, which picked up victories from Chase Elliott at Texas and Darlington and Kevin Harvick last week at Richmond.