The only thing crazier than the weather at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon (May 26) was Elliott Sadler‘s race. He overcame a myriad of issues and an ill-handling car to finish fifth in the Alsco 300.
The weekend started out underwhelming for the NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader. Sadler was 19th quickest in both practices and qualified 13th. When the green flag dropped, the No. 1 Chevrolet lacked speed.
After the conclusion of the event, Sadler admitted that he overachieved in the No. 1 machine, as he claimed it was a 12th-15th place car.
Then, matters began to take a dramatic turn for the worse.
“Something happened to the air conditioning, and it started blowing extremely hot air,” Sadler said after the race. “Then, when I tried to hit my button to cut it off, it fell off in the floor, so I couldn’t reach it.”
On a day when temperatures soared past 80 degrees, Sadler had to brave the heat in the car on top of it.
“The whole first 45-lap segment, it was just excruciating heat on my face,” Sadler said.
During the stage break, Sadler was finally able to cut off the heat-blowing air conditioning, but the conditions inside the car hardly improved.
The No. 1 Chevy handled even worse in the second stage, and it looked as if Sadler was going to get lapped. He finished the second stage in 26th, only two spots ahead of the last car on the lead lap.
Sadler continued to struggle into the final stretch — but then the rain washed away his troubles. The race featured a rain delay with 28 laps to go. The brief heavy downpour cooled down the track and provided Sadler with more grip.
“The rain came at the right time for me where I could regroup, get some oxygen and come back out and finesse in the top five,” Sadler said.
Sadler said had the rain not came then he wouldn’t have gotten a top five, but he thinks he could have still gotten a top 10.
Track conditions were not the only factor in Sadler’s turnaround. His crew chief Kevin Meendering made adjustments that made the car handle better on the final two green flag runs of the race.
“I try to give those guys the best information I can,” Sadler said. “They just do really good with adjustments, they’re really smart guys, and they’re very methodical, and they don’t jump to conclusions. They take all the information I give them and make some really smart decisions. My car always gets better as the race goes on. That’s all I can ask for.”
Sadler now leads the NXS point standings by 38 points over Christopher Bell
About the author
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.