HOMESTEAD, Florida — Elliott Sadler’s fourth runner-up finish for the Xfinity title in the last seven years was a pain he had not felt before.
“I’d say tonight is the most devastating and down and out I’ve ever felt in my career,’’ Sadler said after finishing second to JR Motorsports teammate William Byron for the championship.
Sadler’s anger was directed at Ryan Preece, who slowed Sadler by challenging him for position and stalling Sadler’s momentum as Sadler tried to hold off Byron for the championship in the final 10 laps.
“We were in position to win this championship,’’ Sadler said. “We were there. He raced me hard and held me down and (Byron) got a run on us and he let (Byron) go. Very frustrating.’’
Byron took advantage by diving under Sadler and passing him. Sadler tried to get by Preece but made contact that caused his right front tire to go down. Sadler finished eighth, losing the championship to Byron, who placed third.
“To be that close and not win a championship is frustrating,’’ said the 42-year-old Sadler, who has not won a title in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. “I don’t have many years left, and I wanted to try to fulfill a childhood dream. I didn’t know it was going to come down to a guy that’s not even racing for anything to hold us down like that. No respect at all.’’
Preece said he was racing for something. He was in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing to compete for the car owner’s title.
“I’m just doing what I’m doing for Joe ,’’ Preece said. “They told me to race for the owners championship.’’
Sadler didn’t buy it when told what Preece said..
“He wasn’t because (Sam Hornish Jr.) was half a lap ahead of him,’’ Sadler said, referring to the Team Penske car that won the car owners title. “He wasn’t racing anybody.’’
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Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).
NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”
“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.
Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.
“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”
Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.
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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.
Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.
“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.
“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”
Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).
The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.
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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.
In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.
No other penalties were announced.
Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.
Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.
What to expect from today’s show.
- The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
- One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
- In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
- Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.
If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.
Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.