With a push from Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler took the lead on a restart with four laps to go and never looked back, winning the Xfinity Series’s Chase opener at Kentucky Speedway.
Sadler fended off Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Sam Hornish Jr. to win his third race of the year and his second in four races.
The win meant even more for Sadler, whose mother, Bell Sadler, has been in the hospital recently.
“We fought through a lot tonight, but I’m going to get emotional now,” Sadler told NBCSN. “I’ve been in the hospital with my mom all week in the ICU. Watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. Made her way back home tonight to watch the race.”
The JR Motorsports driver advances to the second round of the Chase with his win. The 41-year-old veteran has not finished worse than fourth in the last four races.
After starting third, Sadler fell back to 16th by the halfway point. Through pit strategy and a track-record 12 cautions, Elliott was in the top five by Lap 150. He led 11 laps including the final four.
“These guys (his team) are my heroes,” Sadler said. “We had a 10th- or 15th-place car at best. We decided to come in and really take our time and work on it … Got a good push there at the end (from Suarez).”
The final restart was caused by a crash between Chase favorite Erik Jones and Ty Dillon with 13 laps to go.
MORE: Race results
MORE: Xfinity point standings
WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Both Sam Hornish Jr. and Justin Allgaier somehow fought back from a Lap 131 crash to finish fourth and ninth respectively. Allgaier is in the Chase, while Honrish was filling in for RCR’s No. 2 car … Ryan Sieg, another Chase driver, spun to bring out the caution on Lap 117 and bounced back to finish 16th on the lead lap … Ryan Blaney gave the No. 22 car its third top-three finish in the last six races.
WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: On a restart with 13 laps left, Erik Jones, who led a race-high 100 laps, got loose entering Turn 3 and collected Ty Dillon, sending both into the outside wall. Jones finished 28th and Dillon 27th …. Chase driver Brandon Jones and Justin Marks wrecked on the frontstretch during a Lap 95 restart. Marks got loose exiting Turn 4 and spun into Jones, who was on his outside. Jones finished 26th … Marks brought out his third caution of the night when he spun by himself on Lap 124 and backed into the outside wall. Marks finished 15th … Josh Berry, running third, pancaked the Turn 4 wall with 18 laps to go. In his second and final start of 2016, Berry finished 13th.
NOTABLE: The race’s 12 cautions broke the track record of 10 … Elliott Sadler is the 13th different Xfinity winner at Kentucky in 20 races … Matt Tifft, in his first Xfinity race since brain surgery, finished fifth for the first top five of his career (eight starts) … Brendan Gaughan led 19 laps, his most since leading 22 in his 2014 Kentucky win.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “At halfway, we were running (16th). By my calculations, we were about 10th or 11th in points. To fight back those last 100 laps to get back that momentum means a lot to us.” – Elliott Sadler after winning at Kentucky.
NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway on Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN