A week ago at Indianapolis, Elliott Sadler had not been a happy man. Judged to have jumped a crucial restart near the end of the race because of a shove from behind over which he'd had no control, he had been served a costly drive-thru penalty that had handed the race win to Brad Keselowski and left Sadler fuming on his way to confront the NASCAR officials, to no avail.
"We felt like we should have won that race last week," admitted Sadler. "I'm not going to lie to you, I'm still disappointed about last week.
"It's been a rough week," he added, referring to his father having surgery during the week but who had still had time to offer some words of advice to his son: "He said do not let them take this championship away from you," Sadler revealed. "Go to Iowa and kick their butts."
And sure enough, this weekend at Iowa Speedway, Sadler responded to last week's adversity in the best way possible and the only way he knew how: by winning the US Cellular 250 from pole position, despite encountering some stiff competition from Justin Allgaier along the way.
Sadler didn't get the best of starts to his evening's work, losing the lead on the first lap to fellow front row man Darrell Wallace Jr. Despite this being only his second Nationwide Series start (his first in May was also at Iowa), the 18-year-old pulled out a big margin over Sadler and the rest of the field and held it through to lap 35, when worn tyre and lapped traffic held him up just long enough for Austin Dillon to slide past him for the lead.
"It's cool to lead the first lap," said Wallace, who was driving the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing car. "I don't know if he gave it to me or I took it away from him, but that was fun there."
A planned competition caution to allow teams to take a look at their cars after earlier rain has passed over the Speedway came out on lap 50, and at the restart Dillon held the lead over Sadler, Brendan Gaughan, Justin Allgaier and Sam Hornish Jr., Wallace having dropped back to ninth after a slow pit stop.
"I think I got out too hot right there at the beginning and kind of used the tyres up," admitted Wallace later. "We fell off right there in pit road; mistake, my fault there."
Sadler got the slightly better restart but was unable to make it stick, Dillon finally seeing him off after several laps of side-by-side running between the two. A second caution on lap 87 for a spin in turn 4 by John Blankenship set up another visit to pit road for the leaders, but a slip for the rear tyre man cost Ricky Stenhouse Jr. vital seconds and Austin Dillon also had problems, dropping him down nine spots for the restart on lap 96.