Sadler Earns Top-Five Finish at Richmond, Brings Home Regular Season Championship

JR Motorsports | 9/9/2017

Axalta Dale Earnhardt Jr. Degree Elliott Sadler Hellmann's Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News OneMain Pilot Flying J Race Report Richmond William Byron XFINITY Series

Elliott Sadler brought home a top-five finish for JR Motorsports at Richmond Raceway. With the fifth-place finish Sadler officially clinched the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Points Championship.

Race 25 of 33: Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile D-shaped oval / 250 laps
Weather: Clear, 64 degrees
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

Sadler’s Finish: 5th   
Byron’s Finish: 7th
Allgaier’s finish: 8th    
Earnhardt’s Finish: 9th
Annett’s Finish: 15th         

Elliott Sadler 

Elliott Sadler and the OneMain Financial team brought home a fifth-place finish in Friday night’s 250-lap event at Sadler’s hometown track of Richmond Raceway. After claiming his 10th top-five finish of the season, Sadler clinched the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season points championship—earning 15 playoff bonus points that will be added to his current five points from his stage wins.

After advancing to the third and final round of qualifying, Sadler earned an 11th-place starting position for the day’s event. There, the OneMain Financial Chevrolet was able to run steady before falling back to 13th from 10th place, after reporting tight handling and electing to stay on track during a caution while other teams visited pit road for fresh tires. Driving through the tough-handling condition, the Emporia, Va., native was able to complete a pass and maintain position for a 12th-place finish at the conclusion of Stage One.

Before Stage Two began, the OneMain Financial team made a pit stop for multiple adjustments under caution. The longer stop put the No. 1 Camaro in the 16th position for the start of the second stage. It wasn’t long thereafter that Sadler relayed to his team that the change made on the stop improved the handling of the OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Throughout the last 30 laps of the stage, Sadler raced his teammates William Byron and Justin Allgaier for the seventh and eighth positions. Successfully completing the passes, the veteran driver finished Stage Two in seventh place.

The OneMain Financial team came to pit road once again under caution before the final stage began. A quick stop by the pit crew and strong restart by Sadler put the No. 1 team in third place by the second lap of the stage. With another round of adjustments made in the right direction, Sadler was able to continue his run within the top five. It wasn’t until his tires began to wear that the OneMain Financial driver slipped two position into fifth place. As the white flag waved, Sadler held onto the top five claiming his fifth-place finish of the season.

Brad Keselowki won the NXS event followed by Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Sadler to round out the top five.                                                                                                                                                     

Elliott Sadler, driver OneMain Financial team

“Today was a great day for me and my OneMain Financial team. A top-five finish and clinching the regular season championship at my hometrack is pretty awesome. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys have worked hard all season long, competing for stage points and bonus points. To be able to take these 15 points into the playoffs will be a great advantage.”

William Byron

William Byron brought home his 17th top-10 finish of the season on Friday night at Richmond Raceway after finishing seventh. Byron is currently second in the championship standings, 95 points behind Elliott Sadler.

The No. 9 Axalta Chevrolet qualified sixth for the 250-lap event on Friday afternoon. Byron battled inside the top six during the majority of the first laps of Stage One and on lap 38 he reported that his Chevrolet was tight in the center. When the first caution flag was shown on lap 54 for an incident in Turn 1, Byron radioed to the team that he was battling a car that was tight in the center and free on exit. The call from the box was for Byron to remain on track to maintain his position. Byron restarted fifth.

When the field took the green flag on lap 60, some competitors in front of Byron got backed up on the start which forced Byron into the 10th position. With four laps to go in the stage, the 19-year-old was scored in the 10th position and would lose one position at the end of the stage to finish 11th. The team elected to come to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. The Axalta Chevrolet restarted 10th for the beginning of Stage Two.

Byron remained quiet on the radio during the majority of the second stage as he battled inside the top 10. On lap 131, Byron was scored in the ninth position after getting passed by his teammate while in the eighth position. The Charlotte native reported that his car was still tight in the center. Byron finished Stage Two in the ninth position. The team called the No. 9 machine to pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge and track-bar adjustment and Byron restarted eighth.

Shortly after taking the green flag for the final stage of the race, Byron radioed that his car was free in and off of the corner. The driver remained quiet on the radio, while battling inside the top 10 during the final laps. Byron was scored in the eighth position on lap 245 and advanced one position to finish the race in seventh. Brad Keselowski brought home the win and was followed by Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Sadler.

William Byron, driver No. 9 Axalta Chevrolet team

“I think we had a pretty solid day. We made gains all day, not as many as we wanted to, but we were a lot better than we were earlier this year. I think that it’s a good day when you make improvements and gains. We will put our focus on Chicago next week and focus on having a good race before the playoffs.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the Hellmann’s team earned their 12th top-10 finish of the season on Friday night, placing eighth in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway. With just one race remaining until the playoffs get under way, Allgaier sits third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, 120 points behind leader Elliott Sadler.

The Illinois native started the race in ninth and worked his way up to sixth by lap 8. On lap 14, he relayed to the team that the Hellmann’s Chevy was losing rear grip. Allgaier was running in seventh when a caution came out on lap 54 for an incident on the track. The driver of the No. 7 radioed to crew chief Jason Burdett that his Chevrolet was free on entry and exit, and tight in the center of the turns. The team opted to stay out along with the leaders and Allgaier restarted in sixth on lap 60. Cars behind him were on fresher tires, but he was able to hold on to finish 10th in Stage One.

Under the stage-ending caution, the team made a pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Allgaier took the green flag for Stage Two in 11th on lap 86, but it didn’t take long for him to start advancing positions and he found himself in seventh on lap 112. Just one lap later, he reported that the Hellmann’s Chevy was really tight in the center of the turns. The 31-year-old driver ended up passing one more competitor to end Stage Two in sixth on lap 150.

The team came to pit road under the yellow for four tires, fuel and another track-bar adjustment. Restarting in ninth on lap 162, Allgaier was up to fifth on lap 198. The final stage ended up going caution free and as the laps wound down, Allgaier remained inside the top 10, claiming eighth in the 250-lap event.

Brad Keselowski won the NXS race and was followed by Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon and Daniel Hemric, with Sadler rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Hellmann’s team

“There weren’t many opportunities to make adjustments tonight, but Jason Burdett (crew chief) and the guys made some great calls that got our Hellmann’s Chevy dialed in a little bit more and we were able to come home with another solid top 10. I’m excited to head to Chicagoland next week. It’s my home track and the last race before we head into the playoffs. Hopefully we can keep building on this positive momentum we’ve had recently.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. logged a ninth-place finish in his second and final NASCAR Xfinity Series start this season Friday night at Richmond Raceway. The result was Earnhardt’s sixth top-10 finish in seven career Xfinity Series starts at the track.

After qualifying fifth, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Degree Deodorant Chevrolet propelled its way into third in the opening laps. Throughout much of the initial 75-lap stage, Earnhardt kept his No. 88 ride positioned just behind race leaders Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. When the first caution of the night waved at Lap 53, crew chief Scott Radel elected to keep Earnhardt on track while a handful of other cars pitted for tires. The varying strategies resulted in Earnhardt dropping a few spots to end Stage One eighth, but allowed the Degree team to conserve a set of tires for later in the race.

The former two-time Xfinity Series champion wasted little time climbing back into the top five in the second stage. Earnhardt saw his progress halted after cracking the top five, but managed to maintain his fifth-place running position for the duration of the stage.

When teams pitted between the second and third stages, the Degree team made a minor chassis adjustment in addition to the typical four tires and fuel pit stop in an attempt to help the tight handling condition Earnhardt battled for much of the night. Earnhardt lined up seventh for the ensuing restart at Lap 174 and ultimately ended the race ninth as the event ran green through the checkered flag.

Keselowski won the race with Busch second, Ty Dillon third, Daniel Hemric fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth.                                                                                                                                                     

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver No. 88 Degree Deodorant team

“I think we should have ran a little bit better. We expect to run better when we come here. I think everybody at JR Motorsports would feel like we missed it a little bit. We had a pretty good car and we tried to free it up for the last run and actually made it tighter. I was already kind of fighting a tight car and the adjustments we made just didn’t really work for us.”

Michael Annett

The important thing about Michael Annett’s 15th-place finish in Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at Richmond Raceway was that he and his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet finished ahead of both his main rivals for the final spots in the playoff standings. The Iowa native ended the day still in the 11th spot, a single point up on Brendan Gaughan and 26 ahead of the 13th-place driver, Dakoda Armstrong, with but a single race to go until the playoff field is set.

Annett was in position to put more distance between himself and his playoff rivals in the final segment of the race, but a fierce battle for position with Tyler Reddick slowed his efforts, and the two went a lap down with 34 laps remaining in the 250-lap event. It took another 14 laps for Annett to finally put Reddick behind him, and by then any chance at the free pass was long gone. The needed caution flag did not come, however, and he was closing on 14th-place Cole Custer when the checkered flag finally waved.

After starting 18th, Annett spent Stage One feeling out the track and setting himself up for Stage Two and the end of the race. He was running 16th on lap 53 when the first caution of the night came out, and reported that he was happy with the way his Camaro was turning in the center, but needed more forward drive to gain spots. That turned out to be a theme for the night. As cars ahead of him pitted, he rose to 12th, but fell back to 16th before his car came in, and he rallied back to 14th at stage end. Crew chief Jason Stockert told Annett he was going to take “a bit of a swing” with his adjustments to wedge and air pressure on the pit stop to help the drive off. The No. 5 crew got Annett out in 12th, setting him up for a solid start in Stage Two.

Unfortunately, Gaughan had gambled by taking fresh tires on the lap-53 caution and earned five stage points, tightening an already thin margin between the two. As Stage Two started, Annett stayed right where he was with new tires, dropping back a couple of spots as the race flowed on. With his car’s long-run tendencies, he was 12th again by the end of the 75-lap stage and in good position to maintain his point advantage for the playoffs. He was three points ahead of Gaughan and 30 up on Armstrong with 100 laps of racing left. Stockert called for another four-tire stop with no adjustments and Annett returned to the track in 13th, confident that his Chevrolet’s long-run speed would be there when he needed it.

On lap 174, Reddick got past for 16th, and Annett dogged him for the next 42 laps trying to get back around. Reddick ran the high groove, which forced Annett to wear his tires out on the low groove, and it lasted until Annett got the room he needed to take the spot back on lap 230. Once past, Annett’s lap times improved by better than three tenths of a second, but it was too late to advance and he finished 15th.

Brad Keselowski won the race over Kyle Busch and Ty Dillon, with NXS regular Daniel Hemric coming home fourth. JRM’s Elliott Sadler was fifth, followed by teammates William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with Brennan Poole rounding out the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 5 Pilot Flying J team

“I was way too free that whole last run. I burned the right rear tire off the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet way earlier than in the first two stages, racing with the 42 (Reddick). I was under him, and I had a faster car than he did, but I couldn’t drive off where I needed to so I could get the spot. I was afraid it was going to turn us around, and we couldn’t afford that. We’ll take our points for 15th and go on to Chicago.”

 

No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Camaro
Elliott Sadler

Start

11th

Finish

5th

Laps Completed (Led)

250 of 250 (0)

Points (Bonus)

36 (0)

Points Standings (from leader)

1st (+95)

Status

Running

 

No. 9 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro

William Byron

Start

6th

Finish

7th

Laps Completed (Led)

250 of 250 (0)

Points (Bonus)

32 (0)

Point Standings (from leader)

2nd (-95)

Status

Running

 

No. 7 Hellmann’s Camaro

Justin Allgaier

Start

9th  

Finish

8th

Laps Completed (Led)

250 of 250 (0)

Points (Bonus)

35 (0)

Point Standings (from leader)

3rd (-120)

Status

Running

 

No. 88 Degree Deodorant

Chevrolet Camaro
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Start

5th

Finish

9th

Laps Completed (Led)

250 of 250 (0)

Points (Bonus)

N/A

Status

Running

 

No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro

Start

18th           

Finish

15th      

Laps Completed (Led)

249 of 250 (0)

Points (Bonus)

22 (0)

Standings (from leader)

10th (-382)

Status

Running

 

Articles

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • September 30 03:00 PM ET
    Drive Sober 200 presented by the DE Office of Highway of SafetyDover International Speedway
  • October 7 03:00 PM ET
    BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA DRIVE FOR THE CURE 300Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • October 21 03:00 PM ET
    Kansas Lottery 300Kansas Speedway
  • November 4 08:30 PM ET
    O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 11 03:30 PM ET
    Ticket Galaxy 200Phoenix International Raceway

XFINITY Series Standings

After VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300

Kentucky Speedway | 9/23/2017
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Justin Allgaier (P)20570
2Cole Custer # (P)20570
3Elliott Sadler (P)2055-2
4Daniel Hemric # (P)2052-5
5William Byron # (P)2051-6
6Brennan Poole (P)2047-10
7Matt Tifft # (P)2036-21
8Ryan Reed (P)2034-23
11Michael Annett (P)2022-35