Mother Nature put her mark on the Feed The Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway Friday night, after a late-race rain delay resulted cutting the race by 30 laps. Joe Gibbs Racing also left its mark on Kentucky, as all three teams entered into the Nationwide Series event finished in the top five – unfortunately, none of them in victory lane.
Elliott Sadler tied his best finish of the season with a runner-up run to winner Brad Keselowski; it was also Sadler’s fourth straight top 10 finish in the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota Camry.
“We want to be in this championship and I think last week we showed we can overcome that and come from starting in the rear of the field and having the transmission issues we had and get ourselves a solid top-10,” said Sadler post-race. “We’re still in this thing. Everybody has been asking about being in the championship title and not and how far we’re back. This is a long season. I’ve been part of it the last two years, been on the short end of the stick, but I have learned a lot. It is a long season – everybody is going to have their ups and downs and you just have to keep digging as a race team and we’re trying to do that.”
“About today, proud of my guys,” continued Sadler. “What we proved today as a race team shows that we can contend and be where we need to be each and every week to have a shot at this thing. We want to get some wins – that’s our main goal – we want to get some wins when we show up at the race track.”
Brian Vickers, driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, finished fourth, his sixth top five finish of the year. Like Sadler, he’s still looking for his first win in a JGR machine.
“It was a good run tonight for the Dollar General team,” said Vickers. “All the guys on our Toyota team did a great job. We just kind of inched our way forward. We finally broke into the top-five and then the caution set us back, pitting and then the caution came out. We had to do the wave around and lost track position again. We worked our way back forward again – the guys did a good job, good changes. We had a good car tonight. I don’t know if we could have beat the 22 (Brad Keselowski). Definitely not with two tires, he had four and they were pretty quick at the end. We on average had a good car and I was really proud of the guys to getting from where we started to where we ended. I would have liked to have seen it go green, but that’s the way it is.”
Kyle Busch finished fifth in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota, improving 10 spots in what ended up being the final laps of the race after sliding through his pit box under caution. In 12 Nationwide Series starts this season, Busch has just one finish outside the top five – his 32nd-place finish at the season opener in Daytona.
“A couple runs ago we started getting tight, but the guys here have done a stellar job today being able to give me a race car capable of running up front the way we have,” said Busch. “Earlier this morning we weren’t very good and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys went to work and made some smart changes and made us a really fast race car. Just not quite fast enough. The 22 (Brad Keselowski) definitely had the field covered.”
Matt Crafton, a veteran of the Camping World Truck Series, made his debut in the Nationwide Series driving for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 Chevrolet; Crafton finished third.
Sadler moved up one spot to fourth in points, while Vickers moved up one to eighth. The No. 54 team leads the Nationwide Series owner points standings, 39 ahead of the No. 22 of Penske Racing.
The Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 takes the green flag at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com and joegibbsracing.com.
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