NEWTON, Iowa — Some fatherly advice helped Elliott Sadler adjust his attitude after a controversial penalty cost him a race in Indianapolis last week.
Sadler rebounded from that much-talked-about restart penalty to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
Before Sadler left North Carolina on Thursday, his dad told him he could either wallow in self-pity or come out with greater determination to keep and build on his series points lead.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to fight for your right to be in the position you’re in, and don’t let these guys take this championship from you. You can either lay over and die or you can stand up and fight,’” Sadler said. “He wanted me to come and fight this weekend.”
Sadler’s No. 2 Chevrolet was on the pole with a track-record qualifying speed of 135.141 mph and was near or at the front of the pack the entire race. He overtook Justin Allgaier on the 192nd of 250 laps and went on to his fourth victory of the season.
Sadler denied Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a fourth straight victory on the 0.875-mile track, and increased his lead in the series standings to 18 points over Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon.
“We all had one thing in mind: Let’s go to Iowa and kick some butt and show everybody what we’re all about and what kind of men we are,” Sadler said. “I think this is a great statement race for our race team.”
Allgaier was second, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Michael Annett and Stenhouse.
“Man, it’s so frustrating to run second when you can see him and are catching him at the end,” Allgaier said.
Danica Patrick, who crashed early in Indianapolis last week, finished 11th.
Hornish won the final “Dash4Cash” bonus of $100,000. His fan partner, Tammy Altieri of Spokane, Wash., also won $100,000.
Stenhouse, who led 209 of 250 laps at Iowa in May, was no threat this time. Drivers were using new right-side tires for this race, and Stenhouse said he never got a good feel on the track.
“We lacked right-side grip,” he said. “But it’s the same tire for everybody, and we didn’t quite figure it out. It’s just part of the game.”
Sadler came into the race still smarting from what he believed was an unjust penalty. He had won in Chicago two weeks ago and was in contention for the win in Indianapolis when he passed eventual winner Brad Keselowski on a restart with 18 laps to go.
Officials ruled that Sadler went too early and black-flagged him. Sadler, who finished 15th, said he did nothing wrong because Keselowski slowed unexpectedly and Sadler was getting pushed from behind.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m still disappointed about last week,” he said. “This would be three wins in a row for my race team.”
Sadler’s crew chief, Luke Lambert, said what transpired the week before made the victory win all the sweeter.
“It means a ton to us right now,” he said. “What happened last week is something we’re putting in the past. it’s a little bit of a heart-breaker, but when we got to work Monday morning we were here to race Iowa. We’re moving forward, and we’re going to win a championship.”
The third and final caution came on the 172nd lap. Sadler came out third on the restart behind Allgaier and Kurt Busch. Sadler picked off Busch right away, then steadily cut into Allgaier’s lead before passing him on the inside with 58 laps left.
“When I got to Justin, I had a hard time passing him,” Sadler said. “He kind of knew where my car was fast. He made one slip off turn four and opened the door for me. I got a really good bite under him. I knew once I got out front we were in really good shape.”
Busch, running third, shredded a tire with six laps to go.
Sadler had come close to winning at Iowa before. He won the pole in two previous starts here, and he also had three top-five finishes at the track. He was second to Stenhouse in May.
Once Sadler crossed the finish line, he popped out of his car, pounded the roof and raised his arms over his head in celebration before taking the checkered flag.