Loose-Handling Truck Results In 18th-Place Finish For Elliott Sadler
LEBANON, April 23, 2011: What started as a top-five run ended in a disappointing finish for Elliott Sadler under the lights at Nashville Superspeedway. After qualifying fifth, the No. 21 Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet Silverado was off to a strong start, but handling issues emerged with less than 50 laps to go, relegating Sadler to the 18th position.
Sadler quickly overtook fourth place when the green flag dropped, but by lap six he relayed to crew chief Ernie Cope that the No. 21 was turning too tightly in the center of the corners. Slipping to eighth place by lap 19, Sadler could feel that the concrete track was loosening up with each lap, but the truck still remained tight in the center. With green-flag pit stops beginning on lap 50, Sadler continued to run in the eighth position, bringing the Bully Hill Vineyards machine to pit road on lap 53. Cope called for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment, which he hoped would improve the handling of Sadler's Silverado.
Green-flag pit stops cycled through with Sadler in the 7th position just before the first caution flag of the night waved on lap 59 for debris. Although Sadler stated that the No. 21 was still a little tight in the center of the turns, the team opted to remain on track. With some of the leaders choosing to pit in front of him, Sadler took the green flag from fourth on lap 64. Although he gained one position immediately after the restart, Sadler slipped back to fourth 10 laps later. When the caution flag waved for oil on the racetrack on lap 76, Sadler relayed that the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) machine was still too tight in the center, but the team once again opted to remain on track.
Taking the green on lap 80, Sadler maintained the fourth position for 16 laps, then quickly lost two spots. When the caution waved for debris on lap 103, Cope called Sadler to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Unfortunately, as the field went green on lap 107, Sadler immediately felt that the No. 21 truck had become extremely loose. As the laps progressed, Sadler struggled with the truck's handling, falling to 16th by the time the yellow waved for a multi-truck incident on lap 138. Although the original strategy was to stay on track until the conclusion of the race, Cope called Sadler to the pits for one final attempt at improving the loose handling.
Following a pit stop for four tires and a chassis adjustment, Sadler returned to the track in 19th for the restart on lap 142. Unfortunately the truck's handling did not improve, and Sadler was only able to improve one position before taking the checkered flag in 18th. Kyle Busch earned the win in the Bully Hill Vineyards 200, followed by KHI teammate Nelson Piquet Jr., Timothy Peters, KHI veteran Ron Hornaday and James Buescher.
The Truck Series returns to action May 13 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Tune in to SPEED at 8:30 p.m. EST to catch the trucks battle under the lights.