Sadler wins the day at Chicagoland

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 22, 2012
Elliott Sadler held off a charge by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on a green-white-checker finish to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. Stenhouse appeared to have the stronger car and was chasing down Sadler in the closing laps of the race. But a late caution bunched up the field for NASCAR's version of overtime, Sadler got a push from Justin Allgaier on the restart and pulled away. Stenhouse finished second, followed by Allgaier, Kenny Wallace and Michael Annett. Sadler's win came after he spent most of the week battling a stomach virus. Danica Patrick finished 14th. Track officials held a moment of silence before the race and the No. 24 car driven by Benny Gordon carried the message ''Remember Aurora Colorado'' on its rear fender. It was the third win of the season for Sadler, who has eight Nationwide victories in his career. Sadler won at Phoenix and Bristol earlier this season. He leads the series standings by 11 points over Austin Dillon, who finished sixth. Sunday's race drew a sparse crowd, although no official attendance figure was immediately released. The Sprint Cup Series was off this weekend and will resume racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week. Many of the leaders had just made their final pit stop of the day when Brad Sweet spun to bring out a caution. It was a boost to several drivers, including Sadler, Allgaier and Kyle Busch, who were able to pit under caution. The ill-timed caution flag hurt several drivers who already had pitted - especially Hornish, who expressed his annoyance to his crew on the radio. Sadler led when the race restarted with 28 laps to go. Stenhouse then made a charge, taking third place away from Busch with 20 laps to go and taking second from Allgaier with 16 to go. Sadler had a lead of just under two seconds, with Stenhouse closing in quickly. Then Hornish tapped the rear bumper of Busch and sent him crashing into Brendan Gaughan with eight laps left, bringing out a caution and bunching up the field. Sadler and Stenhouse lined up side-by-side for the green-white-checker restart, and Allgaier gave Sadler a push when the green flag fell. Sadler surged away and Allgaier couldn't stay in contact. Stenhouse charged to second, but couldn't chase down Sadler at the end. It was a respectable run for Patrick, but perhaps not as good as she might have expected going into the race. She finished 10th at Chicagoland last year, and was second-fastest in Saturday's final practice session. Overall, she feels most comfortable on 1.5-mile ovals such as Chicagoland as she makes her transition from NASCAR to IndyCar. But Patrick's car appeared to be a little loose in qualifying, and she started 12th and couldn't make up ground for much of the afternoon.
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