Sadler wins first XFINITY Chase race at Kentucky
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, KY – A huge push from Daniel Suárez on a restart with four laps to go in Saturday night's eventful VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 sent Elliott Sadler ahead of Ryan Blaney to win the opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Kentucky Speedway . Sadler's third win of the season and 13th of his XFINITY Series career was about more than just stamping his way into Round 2 of the Chase. The Emporia, Virginia, native fought for the win while thinking of his mother, Bell, who was released from the hospital Saturday, after a week of hospitalization and two surgeries. "We fought through a lot tonight," Sadler said in Victory Lane. "I'm going to get a little emotional on you, I've been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example." Sadler also credited his team, who helped Sadler battle from outside the top 15 earlier in the race. "These guys are my heroes," Sadler said. "We had a 10th or 15th place car at best. Still had to come in and really take our time and work on it. Great pit calls by Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys to get us in position. Got a good push there at the end. I do want to say thanks to Josh Berry for helping me a ton tonight. That kid did some cool things on the restarts. This OneMain Financial team has no quit in them. We just fight till the end. This is a great way to start the Chase." Suárez, who finished second, said he struggled with a tight condition all night but was best at the end of the race. "Right at the end, we were pretty good, maybe just a little tight but we were strong," he said. "I feel like we were the fastest car out there at the end. I just needed one or two laps more to get the win." The inaugural XFINITY Series Chase race offered plenty of excitement and drama. With the "win and advance" format putting a greater premium on victories, drivers found themselves on the edge of control at a track where the racing groove was extremely tight since undergoing a repave in May. "At halfway, we were running 20th," Sadler said. "By my calculations, we were probably 10th or 11th in points, so to fight back that last 100 laps to gain that kind of momentum probably means a lot for us and these guys. I'm so proud of these guys. Dale (Earnhardt Jr., team owner) and Kelley (Earnhardt-Miller, team manager) and all of our partners for Hunt Bros., and Chevrolet and everyone that does so much for us at JR Motorsports. This is a great way to start off the Chase and keeps the momentum on our side, we can relax and go to Dover and have fun there and Charlotte and get ready for the second round." XFINITY Chase drivers Ty Dillon , Brandon Jones and Erik Jones all found themselves in a deep hole after being collected in accidents throughout a caution-filled race. Dillon and Erik Jones tangled while racing for second with 12 laps remaining. The event was red-flagged for five minutes, 34 seconds for cleanup of the Turn 3 incident. RELATED: See the wreck " Jones' take " Dillon's take Jones, the pole sitter who led a race-high 100 laps, took responsibility for the crash. "I just got sucked around," Jones said after the incident. "I tried to slow down but Ty was holding me down there pretty tight on the restart, slamming doors through (Turns) 1 and 2. It was my fault but it's a pretty tough aero situation to be in. "I just couldn't hang on to it. I tried to slow down but he kept slamming down on my door and I did all I could to hang on to it. It definitely looks like we're going to have to run really well at Dover and Charlotte or even win." Behind Sadler and Suárez, Sprint Cup rookie Ryan Blaney finished third while Sam Hornish Jr . and Matt Tifft completed the top five. Tifft, a NASCAR Next alumnus made his XFINITY Series return after undergoing brain surgery in July to remove a remove a benign, low-grade glioma. Sadler leaves Kentucky Speedway with an eight-point lead in the standings and guaranteed admission to the next round of the Chase at Kansas Speedway in three weeks. Suárez (+27 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Brendan Gaughan (+21), Ryan Reed (+19), Darrell Wallace Jr . (+19), Justin Allgaier (+17), Brennan Poole (+16), Blake Koch (+15), Erik Jones (-3), Ryan Sieg (-5), Brandon Jones (-15) and Ty Dillon (-15). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Sadler makes history, wins and advances
Elliott Sadler makes the most of a late-race restart at Kentucky Speedway to win the first ever NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race and advances to the Round of 8.
Elliott Sadler celebrates emotional, hard-fought victory
Elliott Sadler celebrates in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway after being in 20th position halfway through the race and coming back to win the first NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race.
Recap: Sadler takes Chase opener, advances to Round of 8
NASCAR.com's Costner Merrifield recaps the first race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Kentucky Speedway, where the 1.5-mile oval tested the series best and allowed one Chase driver to advance to the Round of 8.
Jones aims to contend at Dover, boost Chase standing
RELATED: Jones talks about wreck at Kentucky DOVER, Del. -- The XFINITY Series rewrote history books last weekend when it kicked off the series' inaugural 12-driver Chase at Kentucky Speedway . Points leader Elliott Sadler used a late pass to win in the Bluegrass State and simultaneously punch his ticket to the next round of the Chase. This Saturday's race at Dover International Speedway (3 p.m. NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the second of three races in the opening round of the playoffs. May's Dover winner Erik Jones -- who dropped from first to ninth in the Chase standings after a late wreck at Kentucky -- hopes he's not one of those unlucky four. "It's been fun so far," Jones said of the format. "Obviously, only one race in, not the finish we wanted but had a really fast car and had one that could've won the race, but ended up being our own biggest enemy in that one. "Hopefully we can get it back on track here at Dover -- another really good race track for us." For these 12 championship contenders, the "win-and-you're-in" format lends itself to Victory Lane remaining the goal. Spectators saw championship hopes glimmer in the eyes of the Chasers last week, as aggression heated up on track . But with only two races to make up positions on the Chase Grid, it's a balance between staying out of trouble on track but not getting eliminated, either. "You've got to control what you can control and at Kentucky I didn't do a very good job of that. ... I put myself in a situation to make a mistake and ended up doing that and taking ourselves out," Jones said. "If we're caught up in something and it's something out of our control, that's nothing we can do about that. "We still need to put ourselves in a good position and one where we're running up front and hopefully in the mix for a win. If we can do that, I think we'll be just fine." Sadler enters Saturday's race at the Monster Mile atop the Chase Grid, followed by Daniel Suarez , Brendan Gaughan , Ryan Reed , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Justin Allgaier , Brennan Poole , Blake Koch , Jones, Ryan Sieg , Brandon Jones and Ty Dillon , who was also caught up in a late-race wreck at Kentucky. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Heads up: Dover and Las Vegas weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Dover, Delaware, looks like there's a chance for rain. Friday for Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole qualifying there is a 60 percent chance for precipitation. For the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, there is an 50 percent chance for precipitation with a high of 76 degrees. And for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance for precipitation and a high of 76 degrees. For Las Vegas, site of this weekend's Camping World Truck Series events, it will be clear and 70 degrees for the start of Saturday's practices. And on Saturday it will be clear and 90 degrees for the start of the race. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Citizen Soldier 400 is at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series opens practice on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) and qualifies Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Drive Sober 300 is on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET on FS2, followed by the DC Solar 350 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Dover media center at NASCAR.com/presspass. Click here for a full schedule. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME In September of 2015, Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway , a career-best at any track. Harvick beat out eventual 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds for the victory. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Chris Buescher (-30 from 12th place), Tony Stewart (-11), Austin Dillon (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-5) are all on the outside looking in as far as the Chase Grid standings are concerned. Of those drivers, Stewart is the only one who has won at the "Monster Mile" -- three times to be exact. Stewart's most recent win came in 2013. • With 10 wins, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been to Dover's Victory Lane more times than any NASCAR driver. Johnson is looking to punch his ticket to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round and a win at his best track could be in the cards. • Winning the opening XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler continues his momentum to Dover where he has earned three top five and 10 top-10 finishes, two of which came in the last two XFINITY Series races at the 1-mile track. Sadler's experience in 17 starts at Dover could shine through on Saturday compared to the young guns he's competing against for the championship. • Of the Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers, only Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters have wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner John Hunter Nemechek has the best average finish of 4.0 out of the Truck Series Chase drivers. Behind Nemechek is Ben Kennedy with 5.0. Nemechek has run just one Truck Series race at Dover, while Kennedy has experienced two. In 15 starts, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has an average finish of 11.9, but is still seeking a win.
Sadler on boss Dale Jr.: I'm 'honored ... to win for him'
RELATED: Saturday's at-track photos " Results " Standings DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Elliott Sadler said Friday that JR Motorsports team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s announcement that he will not return to Sprint Cup racing this season gave his own No. 1 team "incentive to finish on a high note." That high note came sooner rather than later, as Sadler held off a fast-charging Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez to win Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Darlington Raceway . Following the burnout, Sadler stood on the car across the start-finish line and let out a cheer, full of emotion. The past few weeks have been rough for the No. 1 Chevrolet driver, between his mother's illness and his uncertain future, with OneMain Financial only recently deciding to re-sign. And of course, his boss, friend and mentor Earnhardt Jr.'s tough situation that has been prevalent in his mind. "This is for Dale Earnhardt Jr .," Sadler said, looking into the camera and giving a thumbs-up in Victory Lane. "… This is for you, my man." Earnhardt Jr. also tweeted shortly after Sadler took the checkered flag, wishing his driver a huge congratulations. Fittingly, Sadler's first call came from the bossman himself shortly after, in the midst of victory celebrations. "To hear his voice and jubilation and yelling and screaming and saying a lot of the cool things he likes to say -- I can't really repeat a lot right now," Sadler said. "He and I have a special relationship and have for a long time." Junior's day continued on its upswing, as JRM's Cole Custer won the pole for the Camping World Truck Series Race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . 00 @colecuster00 on the pole for the @NASCAR_Trucks weekend keeps getting better — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) September 3, 2016 For Sadler , this XFINITY win is about giving back to a friend who has afforded him so much. "Look, he's a real race car driver, guys," Sadler said. "He's a true-grit, blue-collar guy … he's one of the good guys. And to see him have to take a step back is really tough on him, but to see him handling it the way he is means a lot to me as driver, but also as a friend. He's given me a great opportunity to drive his cars this year and I think he 100 percent pays attention to what we do and how good we run. "And I think maybe he can feed some his excitement through us. Since he's not in a race car, to hear him talking on the telephone today -- it's neat to hear that excitement in his voice and give him something to be proud of, give him something to cheer about when he's had so much bad news as far as him being able to race. "… I'm very honored and humbled to be the one to be able to win for him."
'Humbled' Sadler puts team, sponsor limbo behind him
RELATED: OneMain extends pact with JRM, Sadler ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- In the span of less than two months, NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler had a secure ride and sponsor, lost a secure ride and sponsor then gained a secure ride and sponsor, all with the same team … and sponsor. Dizzy? Don't blame you. OneMain Financial had sponsored the NASCAR veteran for several years, following him from team to team, but informed Sadler and JR Motorsports earlier this summer that after an executive shakeup following a merger with Springleaf Holdings that they would be exiting the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 season. The news was shocking, given their status as the longest-running XFINITY Series primary sponsor and Sadler being on pace for his most successful campaign since he started racing in the series full-time in 2011. It was equally as stunning when JRM General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller announced a multiyear extension with OneMain and Sadler on Wednesday, a complete 180 from where things were headed. "We were ecstatic when we found out that they had come back and had started talking to Kelley and Dale (Earnhardt Jr., JRM owner) to maybe further this relationship," Sadler told NASCAR.com Friday at Road America , site of Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). " … This all came together really quick and really late, like just here in the past couple days. It's neat how it's all come together pretty fast. " … I was proud when I found out that they were deciding to come back and they really wanted me to be their spokesperson and their head guy for racing. Man, I'm humbled by that. OneMain's a great sponsor. I've been with them over a decade. All that put together, I'm humbled that they still want me to be a part of their brand and still be a part of their company. I think definitely it's a no-brainer to be a part of JR Motorsports in this particular division." While Wednesday's announcement was a welcome sight for the industry -- nobody likes to see a sponsor leave the sport, let alone one with such a long-standing, visible relationship with a single driver -- it was certainly an unprecedented head-scratcher. What, exactly, had happened in the past month-plus to have OneMain change their minds? "One thing I've learned, and the most important thing I've learned, is in a merger, there's a lot going on, man," Sadler said. "There's only so many hours in a day and there's only so many things that you can look at; charts and stats and information. I think once they got all the merger stuff straight and they could really take a good, deep look into the racing program, into NASCAR, into the demographics between their customers and NASCAR, I think they really started to kind of see that 'Hey, this is maybe … this looks pretty good.' "NASCAR is a pretty wide sport. I think they learned they had customers in California that were race fans, they had customers in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Texas and Florida and everywhere in between and it's going to be, 'Wow, maybe this is a direct correlation between the two. We might need to look at this.' " Being the points leader, a favorite in the first-ever XFINITY Series Chase and an employee of NASCAR's most popular driver definitely wasn't a hindrance, either. RELATED: Series Chase Grid "I think it doesn't hurt the way we're running. I think that's a big part of it. It 100 percent doesn't hurt to be associated with JR Motorsports and Junior Nation. Kelley and Dale and (JRM Brand Director & Communications) Mike Davis and their staff; what they do in digital consumption and stuff off the track … there's no other team even close in the garage. I think once you throw all that together and seeing the response and the people you're reaching is why the reconsideration was done and why they decided to stay here for a couple more years." Had this all not come together, however, Sadler indicated that in terms of a backup plan, he "never really messed with (looking at) other options." In fact, retirement was starting to creep into the 41-year-old's thoughts, ever so slightly. "I just kind of was looking at … 'This might be it.' I didn't know, but I didn't want to take away from what we were doing here. It's the best chance I've had in a long time to make a great run to Homestead. We're leading in the points and we're running good and we've got a good string of finishes going and we've been fast every week. I didn't want to … you can only control what you can control. I've been a part of the sport long enough that I didn't want to go off and start fishing and doing other things and taking away from what my job is, and that's showing up prepared every week. I'm not going to tell you that it hasn't been hard. The last month and a half, I haven't slept much, I'll be honest with you. It's been tough and priorities have been shifted some and wondering what's going to happen.” Sleep should come a bit easier now for the veteran, at least until the Chase starts at Kentucky later this year. Gratitude does, as well. " … For all of that to come together and be able to be the lucky one to stand here and talk to you about it … " said Sadler , " … it's pretty humbling and I'm pretty thankful to have that opportunity."
OneMain extends sponsorship with JRM, Sadler
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 24, 2016) – OneMain, America's premier consumer finance company, has signed a multi-year extension to continue its sponsorship of Elliott Sadler and the No. 1 JR Motorsports race team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, JRM General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller announced today. OneMain will receive primary branding on Sadler's No. 1 car for 20 races in 2017. It will mark the seventh year of partnership between OneMain and Sadler , the current NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader. "We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Elliott Sadler and JR Motorsports," said OneMain Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Hurzeler. "After further evaluation of the program, we felt this relationship was a perfect fit for our company. Elliott has been an outstanding ambassador for OneMain and we look forward to our continued success with Elliott and JRM, on and off the track.”" The announcement all but solidifies JR Motorsports' driver line-up in 2017. JRM will compete for a championship with full-time entries for three drivers – Sadler , Justin Allgaier and William Byron. JRM will enter a fourth car on a select-race basis. "Elliott and OneMain are integral pieces to the make-up of our company," said Earnhardt Miller. "Elliott's talent speaks for itself, but what’s more, his experience and leadership is completely necessary for our younger guys. He brings a professionalism and charisma that permeates our entire organization, and I think he brings it to OneMain as well. I'm glad they have decided to come back with their sponsorship. We've got many things to accomplish together." Sadler has undergone a resurgence in his first year at JR Motorsports. He currently leads the NXS point standings and is preparing to compete in the first-ever NXS Chase format. This year Sadler has one win (Talladega), seven top fives, and a series-leading 19 top-10 finishes in 22 starts. A veteran racer, Sadler has 15 victories across NASCAR’s top-three series. He has been an NXS regular since 2011, twice producing runner-up finishes in the championship point standings (2011-12). "This is a dream come true for me," said Sadler , 41, from Emporia, Virginia. "OneMain is a great partner and we're fortunate to have this stability moving forward to compete for race wins and championships for years to come. I'm as energized as I've ever been."
Sadler savors XFINITY victory at Darlington
RELATED: Race results " At-track gallery " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Sadler gear DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Elliott Sadler had a passenger for Saturday's VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway -- in spirit at least. After a breathtaking battle against Denny Hamlin over the closing laps, Sadler crossed the finish-line .454 seconds ahead of Hamlin to win for the first time at the Lady in Black -- and immediately dedicated the victory to JR Motorsports team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who announced on Friday he would sit out the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season because of a concussion. RELATED: Junior announces he will miss rest of 2016 season "This win today is for my man, Dale Earnhardt Jr .," Sadler said. "I know he's going through a tough time. He's not being able to race his race car for the rest of the year. He was riding there with me today, and he's given me such a great opportunity to be a part of his race team." With two laps left in the 147-lap event, however, the outcome was in the balance. Sadler had a lead of .715 seconds when he crossed the stripe to complete Lap 145. But he started sliding toward the outside wall in Turn 2 and had to fight to keep his No. 1 Chevrolet under control. Hamlin pulled to the inside and the cars raced side-by-side down the backstretch, but as they entered Turn 3, Sadler regained momentum and pulled ahead in the top lane as the drivers approached the white flag. Hamlin got an excellent run through Turns 1 and 2 on the final lap but not enough to make a pass. "I messed up, man," Sadler said of the close call on the penultimate lap. "I could kind of see him coming, and I was trying to make up some time, and I started focusing on a lapped car in front of me, and I ran out of room and almost gave it to him. "But all in all, we were able to hold him off." The victory was Sadler's first at Darlington in 32 starts across all three of NASCAR's national series. He won for the second time in the XFINITY Series year and for the 12th time in 320 XFINITY starts. Making only his second start of the season in the series, Hamlin was frustrated in his attempt to win at Darlington for the fifth time. "We definitely had a good line going through (Turns) 1 and 2," Hamlin said, "But I didn't get a good restart (on Lap 112, after the last of three cautions), he got position on me, and track position meant so much. Once he ran the high line, my car was entirely too tight to run low. "It eliminated our passing opportunity unless we could slide-job him there in Turn 3 on that one lap he messed up, but it didn't happen." Daniel Suárez ran third after challenging Hamlin for second place -- until a brush with the wall ended his chances. But the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota held third place ahead of Kyle Larson , who spun entering pit road from the lead on Lap 103 to cause the final caution and caused a major shakeup of positions within the top 10. Brennan Poole came home fifth and clinched a spot in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase, as did Darrell Wallace Jr . (17th on Saturday) and Brandon Jones (ninth). That leaves three spots still open with two regular-season races left before the Chase field is set.