Sadler Wins Wild Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Race for His First Talladega Superspeedway Victory
TALLADEGA, AL – Less than a week after turning 39 years old, Elliott Sadler gave himself a long-awaited birthday present by winning at Talladega Superspeedway for the first time in his career.
Sadler outraced Chris Buescher over the final three laps and led a tight pack of 16 cars across the finish line to win the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. It was Sadler’s first victory at Talladega Superspeedway in 29 attempts (six in the Nationwide Series and 23 Sprint Cup Series races), even though he has had fast enough cars to start on the pole at the track five times.
“This means a lot to me, especially to do it at Talladega. We finally won one here,” said Sadler, who now trails leader Chase Elliott by only one point in the Nationwide Series standings. “I’ve run upfront a lot in the last couple of laps here, but I’ve never put myself in the right situation to win.
“(Before the final restart) I was thinking about how many races I’ve lost here by not making the right decision. I played 20 different scenarios through my head on what I thought I needed to do and what position I needed to be in and who I needed to watch out for. I just took all that experience of me messing up so many times here in the past and tried to put it to good use.”
There were 86 green-flag passes for the lead in the race. That is the second-most passes in the Nationwide Series over the past seven years, and the third-most over the past 10 years. Buescher tried to add one more pass to that total near the end, but was unable to muscle his way past Sadler and had to settle for second place.
“The battle at the end was incredible,” Buescher said. “I’ve never been at one of these restrictor-plate races where you could make contact like that. We were really bumping a lot out there. It was absolutely crazy.”
Regan Smith finished third, followed by David Ragan in fourth, pole-sitter Sam Hornish Jr. fifth, Joe Nemechek sixth, J.J. Yeley seventh, Landon Cassill eighth, David Starr ninth and Trevor Bayne 10th.
Hessert wins speedy IMHOF 200 ARCA race: The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards enjoyed breakfast at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning. With an emphasis on fast.
It took barely 75 minutes to complete the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200, with Tom Hessert zipping around the 2.66-mile trioval at an average speed of 160.515 mph to take the checkered flag before 11:20 a.m.
Hessert emerged from a breakaway pack of 15 cars that raced three-wide and even four-wide over the final seven laps. Jon Wes Townley and Bobby Gerhart swapped the lead before Hessert made a three-wide pass on the high side coming through the trioval with three laps to go. With teammate Austin Wayne Self pushing him, Hessert maintained the lead the rest of the way for the fourth victory of his seven-season ARCA career, and his first win on a superspeedway.
“I didn’t really know how it would play out,” Hessert said. “Bobby was good all day, like he always is here. I don’t know how, but we snuck by him on the outside and it worked out for us. I have to thank Austin. He was all over our back bumper, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. It was a great day. I’m really proud of everybody on the team.”
Townley finished second, Self was third, followed by Mason Mitchell in fourth, Spencer Gallagher fifth, Derrick Lancaster sixth, Gerhart seventh and defending race winner Frank Kimmel eighth.
Polesitter Grant Enfinger, who was attempting to become the first driver in ARCA history to win the first four races of the season, was penalized for speeding on pit road and finished ninth.
“It’s disappointing. It was definitely (a mistake) on my part,” said Enfinger, a native of Fairhope. “I hate it for all the guys on the team. They gave me one heck of a car. We had a car that could have won the race, and the driver let it slip away.”
Justin Allison, grandson of Donnie Allison, finished 19th. Mobile native Thomas Praytor was 22nd, and fellow Alabama driver Joey Gattina of Pelham finished 31st.
The Aaron’s Dream Weekend concludes tomorrow with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action in the Aaron’s 499. Great seats are still available and can be found by logging onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or calling 877-Go2-DEGA.