Sadler already a two-time winner
Danica's struggles continue
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Four races into the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, no Sprint Cup regular has won, but there’s plenty of Cup experience in two of them.
Elliott Sadler, who finished second in points without winning a race in 2011, captured his second victory at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. He is a veteran of 430 Cup races but competes only occasionally in the premier series nowadays. Saturday’s was his seventh career victory in the Nationwide Series. He claimed a Cup victory at Bristol in 2001.
Though winless for the season, Cup drivers took the next four positions after Sadler, who led only the final 36 laps. Kasey Kahne was second, Brad Keselowski third, Joey Logano fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fifth.
Sadler, 36, stretched his series point advantage to 25 over reigning champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was sixth on Saturday.
Another disappointment – Danica Patrick, who figured to have her troubles at Bristol, finished two laps off the pace in 19th place. She is 12th in points, 91 behind Sadler.
Patrick said her goal was to bring the car home in one piece, and in that she was successful.
High hopes – Denny Hamlin is a short-track master but has never won at Bristol.
“We come in here with a little bit of optimism -- knowing that it’s a short track and what we found last week (Las Vegas) is kind of our weakness,” he said. “(Bristol’s) kind of the direct opposite of that, so we feel like we can do some things with the car to make some differences and try to capitalize on a win this weekend. We've been close here before and ran really competitive here before.
“Just haven't got a race win. The spring race has typically not been that great of one for us so we hope to turn that around this weekend.”
Cutting back – Travis Pastrana, in whose activities NASCAR has much interest thanks to his legion of young fans, is backing a bit away from his stock car commitments.
Pastrana is running the entire Global RallyCross series.
“NASCAR’s where I want to go,” he said, “but unfortunately – or fortunately – with my background in Rally, the sponsors know that I can do well. … We’re funding a lot of races through the Global Rallycross (support), and it’s a fun series.
Pastrana had planned to run the entire NASCAR K&N East Series, but that will no longer be the case.
Same story – Those who long for the slam-bang Bristol action of a few years back drew little comfort in the Ford EcoBoost 300.
The Nationwide Series was run in a little over an hour and 40 minutes, and there were only four caution flags for 30 laps. Before the track’s reconfiguration, the norm on caution flags was three times that number.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton