Sadler wins Xfinity Series race at Talladega after OT wreck
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) Elliott Sadler celebrated his 41st birthday Saturday with his first victory in almost two years.
Mired in a drought that dated to May 4, 2014, Sadler didn't mind waiting through a five-minute post-race review by NASCAR to be named the winner of the Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR had to determine who was the actual leader when a caution froze the field in overtime. Brennan Poole crossed the finish line first, but was denied his first career Xfinity Series win when NASCAR said the field was frozen with Sadler still ahead of Poole.
''People don't know how hard it is to win these races. It's very emotional,'' Sadler said in victory lane, choking back tears. ''It's a great birthday gift to me. Man, we needed this win.''
Sadler's last victory, just four days shy of exactly two years ago, also was at Talladega.
Poole harbored no ill-will over the final result, even though he was dropped to third. Both Poole and Sadler sat in their idling race cars by the flagstand as NASCAR reviewed the finish.
''Just glad that they were able to take the time to get it right, and happy they are able to get the trophy to the rightful winner,'' Poole said. ''I just wish it was us. I thought we had it, just a little shy there.''
Sadler was chasing leader Joey Logano on the final lap when Logano tried to block Sadler's attempt at a pass for the victory. Logano went high for a block, then low, but Sadler spun him during the rapid lane changing. Logano's car turned into the wall and created a crash that brought out the yellow flag.
''I had my plan made up, I tried to get to the outside of Joey and he made a great block,'' said Sadler, who credited himself with ''a great save'' after contact with Logano sent Logano into the wall and Sadler had to avoid also wrecking.
Justin Allgaier also waited inside his car for the review because even though Poole nipped him at the finish line, he wasn't sure if he was the leader when the field was frozen. He ultimately was scored second behind teammate Sadler.
''I didn't want to get out of my car because that seems like giving up,'' Allgaier said. ''The tape is the tape. It's tough to lose one when it's that close. They got it right.''
Sadler is just the second Xfinity Series full-time driver to win this season. Sprint Cup drivers have won seven of the first nine races this season.
With the victory, Sadler earns an automatic berth into the Xfinity Series' inaugural Chase for the championship.
It was also his first win for JR Motorsports since joining that team this season. Sadler and Allgaier gave JRM the 1-2 finish, and the victory made it two consecutive wins for the organization after Earnhardt's win last weekend at Richmond.
''It's just great to drive for Dale. The guy wants to win races,'' Allgaier said. ''I'm just glad to be part of such a great organization.''
It was still a career-best finish for Poole, who didn't lament his near-miss.
''I want the guy who deserves to be the winner to be the winner, and Elliott was the winner,'' Poole said. ''I'm just happy I got third out of the day at Talladega.''
Jeremy Clements finished a career-best fourth and was followed by Brendan Gaughan and Austin Dillon.
Logano wound up 27th.