Late-Race Spin Results in 13th-Place Finish for Sadler in Season Finale at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, November 21, 2010: In his eighth Truck Series start for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in 2010, Elliott Sadler was on his way to a top-five finish in the season-ending Ford 200 before a spin with seven laps remaining relegated the No. 2 CitiFinancial Chevrolet Silverado to a 13th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Taking the green flag from the fourth position, Sadler quickly advanced to third, but immediately relayed to crew chief Ernie Cope that the No. 2 Chevrolet was turning too loosely. Moving up to second place on lap seven, Sadler explained that the truck was not very good in turn two, but that he was hoping that the truck would come to him as track conditions changed. Slipping back to fourth on lap 12 as he battled his truck's handling, Sadler maintained his position until the first caution flag of the evening waved on lap 31 for the No. 90 spinning in turn two.
Calling his driver down pit road, Cope gave Sadler four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to tighten the handling of the truck. Unfortunately, the team had a slow pit stop due to an air hose catching on pit wall, and the No. 2 dropped to 11th before emerging from pit road.
Going green on lap 36, Sadler attempted to make up the positions lost in the pits, advancing to ninth by lap 37. However, Sadler once again told Cope that the truck was still loose, and that the adjustment made in the first pit stop hurt his handling in the center of the turns. As a long run played out, Sadler relayed that the truck was getting better, but that he was still unable to drive it as aggressively as he wanted. After making the pass for eighth on lap 74, the yellow flag waved on lap 76 for debris on the backstretch.
Bringing the No. 2 to pit road, Sadler received four fresh tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to prevent the truck's rear end from sliding around the race track. The team performed a very fast pit stop, and when green-flag racing resumed on lap 81, Sadler was scored in the fifth position. Sadler immediately felt that the truck was even looser than it was on the previous run, and he slipped to seventh prior to the caution flag waving again on lap 90 for an accident in turn three. When a majority of the leaders opted not to pit, Cope and Sadler also decided to stay on the track in preference of track position.
Going green on lap 94, Sadler restarted in sixth. Slipping to seventh on lap 102, Sadler explained to Cope that the truck was still very loose, and Cope convinced Sadler that they'd repair the truck on their next trip to pit road. The team would have their chance on lap 105 when the caution waved again for an accident. Cope called Sadler down pit road for what he planned to be the final pit stop of the day, providing the CitiFinancial Chevrolet with four tires, fuel, a track-bar adjustment and a major air-pressure adjustment. The green flag waved on lap 111 with Sadler in 14th due to several teams opting to stay on track or take only two tires.
The yellow and red flags waved on lap 113 when a truck hit the safety barrels at the entrance to pit road and sent sand flying all over the race track, requiring a major cleanup. Restarting the race on lap 114 in 13th, the handling of the No. 2 finally allowed Sadler to charge toward the front, and he had maneuvered up to sixth by lap 117. As he attempted to make the pass on the No. 13 of Johnny Sauter for fifth on lap 127, Sadler became extremely loose and the No. 2 machine spun down the track. Sadler was able to skillfully avoid hitting anything, but the truck required four fresh tires. Sadler brought the truck down pit road, but upon returning to the track he found that the truck had an unbearable vibration, forcing him to pit for a second time before the final restart of the night on lap 131. Having taken the green flag in 23rd, a great restart allowed Sadler to advance to 16th by lap 132. In the final two laps, Sadler gained three more spots to cross the finish line in 13th.
"We were just too loose the entire race," said Sadler following the race. "We fought the handling of the truck all night, and ultimately it was our undoing when we spun there at the end. It was an unfortunate way to end a fantastic season, but I really enjoyed having CitiFinancial back as a sponsor for the first time in years. I've had a great run at KHI this season, and I'm already looking forward to running the full Nationwide schedule for Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] in 2011."
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag for the Ford 200, followed by KHI teammate Ron Hornaday, Sauter, Todd Bodine and Aric Almirola rounding out the top five. The No. 2 truck finished the 2010 season fifth in the Owner's Point standings, 496 points behind Owner's Championship winner Busch.
The Truck Series returns to the track in 2011 in the season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on February 18th.