Sadler Takes Opening Round Of Xfinity Series Chase

Elliott Sadler
Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images

A huge push from Daniel Suarez 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," said Sadler 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."

Suarez, 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."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] The inaugural XFINITY Series Chase race offered plenty of excitement and drama. With the "win and advance" format putting an even 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," added Sadler. "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.

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 Suarez, 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. Suarez (+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).

Race Results

Pos. # Driver Make Start Laps Led Status Points
1 1 Elliott Sadler Chevy 3 200 11 Running 44
2 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 2 200 0 Running 39
3 22 Ryan Blaney Ford 8 200 10 Running 0
4 2 Sam Hornish Jr Chevy 5 200 0 Running 37
5 18 Matt Tifft Toyota 6 200 2 Running 0
6 62 Brendan Gaughan Chevy 7 200 19 Running 36
7 16 Ryan Reed Ford 16 200 0 Running 34
8 6 Darrell Wallace Jr Ford 9 200 10 Running 34
9 7 Justin Allgaier Chevy 10 200 0 Running 32
10 48 Brennan Poole Chevy 11 200 0 Running 31
11 11 Blake Koch Chevy 15 200 0 Running 30
12 51 Jeremy Clements Chevy 20 200 0 Running 29
13 88 Josh Berry Chevy 12 200 0 Running 28
14 44 J.J. Yeley Toyota 17 200 0 Running 27
15 42 Justin Marks Chevy 13 200 0 Running 26
16 39 Ryan Sieg Chevy 19 200 0 Running 25
17 0 Garrett Smithley Chevy 29 200 0 Running 24
18 28 Dakoda Armstrong Toyota 18 200 0 Running 23
19 4 Ross Chastain Chevy 21 200 0 Running 22
20 07 Ray Black Jr Chevy 25 200 1 Running 22
21 78 B J McLeod Ford 24 197 0 Running 20
22 97 Ryan Ellis Chevy 31 196 0 Running 19
23 90 Dexter Bean Chevy 34 195 0 Running 18
24 74 Mike Harmon Dodge 37 191 0 Running 17
25 25 Todd Peck Ford 40 191 0 Running 16
26 33 Brandon Jones Chevy 14 190 0 Running 15
27 3 Ty Dillon Chevy 4 188 47 Accident 15
28 20 Erik Jones Toyota 1 187 100 Accident 15
29 70 Derrike Cope Chevy 35 168 0 Accident 12
30 01 Ryan Preece Chevy 22 167 0 Running 11
31 52 Joey Gase Chevy 28 133 0 Electrical 10
32 14 Jeff Green Toyota 23 125 0 Vibration 9
33 93 David Starr Chevy 27 124 0 Engine 8
34 13 Timmy Hill Toyota 38 86 0 Engine 0
35 15 Blake Jones Ford 32 73 0 Accident 6
36 77 Matt Waltz Chevy 33 63 0 Electrical 5
37 92 Josh Williams Chevy 30 57 0 Fuel Pump 4
38 89 Morgan Shepherd Chevy 36 20 0 Handling 3
39 40 John Jackson Chevy 39 8 0 Transmission 2
40 10 Mike Bliss Toyota 26 2 0 Rear Gear 0

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