A dramatic finish in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 goes to the veteran.
By wire services
Published April 5, 2004
FORT WORTH, Texas - Elliott Sadler had a fast car all day. He's just glad things slowed down at the end.
Helped by a flurry of late cautions and another hard-luck Texas Motor Speedway moment for Jeff Gordon, Sadler got out in front, then barely held off rookie Kasey Kahne in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 on Sunday.
"It 100 percent benefited me ... the more caution laps we could run, the less time the (No.) 9 (Kahne) had to get up through the field," Sadler said. "We knew nobody could run with him."
Sadler, who started 19th, finished just .028 seconds, half a car length, in front of Kahne. It was Sadler's second Nextel Cup win and first in his 43 races with Robert Yates Racing.
With a last push out of the final turn, Kahne had his left front panel just alongside the rear of Sadler's Ford as they crossed the finish line around the lapped car of Johnny Sauter. It was the eighth-closest finish in Cup history.
"We just about got there," Kahne said. "We didn't need too much more and we would have been there."
Kahne had just led his 148th lap when he took his Dodge into the pits on Lap 262. Right after he got back on the track, and before Sadler and Gordon made green-flag stops, Ward Burton's backstretch spin brought out a caution.
After falling a lap down then getting his lap back on NASCAR's free pass under yellow, Kahne restarted eighth. Gordon and Sadler were 1-2.
Kahne made up one spot over the next 28 laps, 19 of them run under three yellow flags.
Then after the last restart, Gordon suddenly fell off the pace because of an electrical problem. By the time he switched to his backup battery, he had slipped to fourth behind Sadler, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kahne.
Kahne went inside on the 314th of 334 laps to overtake Earnhardt for second and started his pursuit of Sadler.
It was the third runnerup finish for Kahne, who also has a third-place showing in his seven races for Ray Evernham.
The rookie wasn't as happy as Sadler about seeing so much yellow.
"I didn't see any debris half the time. They're putting quickie dry down the bottom of the backstretch where nobody even runs," Kahne said. "It's just ridiculous how long they took. We needed another two or three laps, and we didn't have it."
Gordon finished third and Earnhardt was fourth, his fourth top-10 finish at the 11/2-mile track where he got his first Cup win four years ago. A week after a runnerup finish at Bristol, Rusty Wallace was fifth, stretching his winless drought to 105 races.
Texas is one of four tracks where four-time Cup champion Gordon hasn't won.
Gordon earned his fourth consecutive top-five finish at Texas but has been snakebitten at the track. He was involved in crashes the first four TMS races (1997-00).
Kurt Busch finished sixth to take the series lead, 19 points ahead of Matt Kenseth, his Roush Racing teammate and the defending season champion. Kenseth finished 16th.
Bill Elliott led twice for 26 laps but a cut left tire sent his unsponsored Dodge into the wall on Lap 275. Making the slowing transition to retirement while mentoring Kahne, Elliott is running a limited schedule for Evernham. Without sponsorship, Elliott might not drive again until the Brickyard 400 in August.
NOTABLE: Defending champion Ryan Newman's departure after his No. 12 Dodge hit a wall assured an eighth winner in eight TMS races long before Sadler won. Another TMS streak continued as no driver qualifying in the front row has won. ... Kevin Harvick was 13th, but he got one victory. He finished for the 46th straight race, which became the longest streak as Terry Labonte's string ended at 48 when he fell out 119 laps in. ... Dale Jarrett's streak of leading in every race at TMS ended. He finished 18th.