Auto Racing: Victory a cure for ailing Sadler
By Tina Akouris email@example.com July 22, 2012 9:12PM
Elliott Sadler celebrates after winning the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.. | Paul Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 24, 2012 6:18AM
Elliott Sadler wasn’t his usual self Sunday during the NASCAR Nationwide series STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. Sadler, the Nationwide points leader, had not eaten in nearly three days after suffering a stomach virus last week.
Despite feeling weak, Sadler held off a hard-charging Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier on a green-white-checkered flag for his third victory this season and eighth in 182 Nationwide starts.
Sadler almost put his foot in his mouth Saturday, when he told owner Richard Childress that he would be strong enough to race Sunday. There was a point on race day, though, where Sadler was wondering if he could get the job done.
“I dug myself a hole when Richard asked me if I should think of a backup driver and I (told) Richard I wouldn’t need one,” Sadler said. “I had to back it up today. I’m very weak. But with my stomach, I had one biscuit this morning and it felt like I had a huge breakfast.”
The race was Stenhouse’s to lose.
With about 34 laps to go, Stenhouse was sitting in his No. 6 Ford on pit road, getting fuel and four fresh tires after having led most of the race. Victory seemed to be well within reach.
But while Stenhouse was waiting to leave his pit stall, Brad Sweet spun out for the second time in the race and a caution came out. When Stenhouse went back out, he found himself in 10th place and Sadler in the lead.
Trying to climb back, Stenhouse got to within a second of Sadler’s lead when another caution came out with seven laps to go. On the restart, Stenhouse moved from behind Sadler’s bumper back to third and then back behind Sadler again.
But Stenhouse didn’t have enough push and Sadler crossed the finish line. Stenhouse was second and Allgaier, the 2011 STP 300 winner, was third.
Stenhouse led 135 laps. At one point he led the field by a whopping six seconds.
“We had the car to beat and the cautions just keep falling their way and we had to keep working our way back up the field,” said Stenhouse, who is going to run a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013 for Roush-Fenway Racing.
“This sucks having a green-white-checkered to end it. There wasn’t anything I could do. We had it won.”
Kenny Wallace, who finished fourth, did not clear post-race inspection and his No. 09 car was deemed “too light,” according to a NASCAR spokesperson. A decision on Wallace will be made early this week, the spokesperson said.
With the victory, Sadler won a $100,000 bonus in NASCAR’s Dash 4 Cash program.
Sadler, Stenhouse, Sam Hornish Jr. and rookie Austin Dillon are competing for the bonus money in two remaining races: Indianapolis (July 28) and Iowa (Aug. 4). Dillon won the first bonus at New Hampshire on July 14. The highest finisher of the four wins the money.