After holding off a hard charging Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler wins Darlington in his 13th attempt. The NASCAR Xfinity Series points leader’s win in the 2016 VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 has come at a difficult time. Sadler’s long awaited Darlington victory quickly follows the news that JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season due to a concussion.
Elliott Sadler Wins Darlington in 13th Attempt
Holding off Hamlin
Sadler has attempted the “Track Too Tough to Tame” 13 times since 1996. The former Cup Series driver held off Denny Hamlin for his second victory of the 2016 season. Elliott Sadler had previously finished second at Darlington multiple times behind Hamlin’s Cup and Xfinity teammate Kyle Busch. Sadler had to fight for the victory, as Hamlin was able to bring his car up alongside the No. 1 OneMain Chevrolet multiple times in the final laps. Ultimately, Sadler was able to keep Hamlin at bay despite contact with the wall that nearly gave Hamlin the advantage. However, the notoriously difficult to pass oval of Darlington allowed Sadler’s finish to match the number of his car.
The 41-year old Sadler was elated after the victory, stating: “I’ve been wanting to win here for a long time“. After 20 years in NASCAR and 13 starts at Darlington, Sadler was able to find victory lane. This win is made sweeter for what it represents to the JR Motorsports organization under difficult circumstances.
The Absence of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Elliott Sadler has a strong commitment to JR Motorsports, having recently signed a multi-year contract extension with the team. Earlier in the race weekend, Sadler stated that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s absence due to injury has become a source of motivation for the race team. Of his team owner, Sadler said: “We’ve kind of been racing for him these last couple weeks … a month or so“. He continued, “We want the best for him. He’s given all of us a great opportunity. We want him to enjoy the same fun, the same competitive spirit that we’re having week-in and week-out. So we definitely talk about it as a team and wish him nothing but the best coming back. And it definitely gives us some incentive to finish on a high note, now that he’s out of the car“.
Certainly, this victory has done well for the spirits of both Elliott Sadler and Dale Earnhardt Jr. As Elliott Sadler wins Darlington, Earnhardt tweets:
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 3, 2016