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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sadler all but assures top 10 finish

Mike Harris Associated Press

FONTANA, Calif. — Elliott Sadler has all but secured a spot in NASCAR’s new championship playoff. Now, he’s thinking about winning it all.

“I think we can,” Sadler said Sunday night after racing to a victory at California Speedway. “We have four or five cars in the shop just like this. I can’t wait to get them on the track. We might be the sleeper.”

The 29-year-old racer from Emporia, Va., looked more like a favorite in the Pop Secret 500, winning for the second time this season and third time in his career. He easily held off rookie Kasey Kahne and Mark Martin at the end of the 250-lap race — with the help of a couple of late caution flags that slowed the two challengers.

But Kahne, who finished second for the fifth time this season, and Martin climbed into the top 10 in the points race with only next Saturday night’s race at Richmond, Va., remaining before NASCAR pares the championship battle to the top 10 drivers for the last 10 races of the season.

Kahne is now ninth and Martin 10th, nine points behind. Jamie McMurray finished fourth in the race and moved into 11th, 25 points behind Martin.

All Sadler has to do is start the race at Richmond to secure his place in NASCAR’s new Chase for the Nextel Cup.

“The cautions were definitely helping me, but my car was unbelievable the last 10 laps,” said Sadler, whose last win came early in the season at Texas.

“After we got the checkered (flag), I told (team owner) Robert Yates ‘This is a dream come true. This is the reason I came to Robert Yates Racing.’ “