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NNS: Hard luck night at Daytona for Elliott Sadler

Jul 4, 2014, 11:49 PM EDT

Subway Firecracker 250 - Practice Getty Images

Elliott Sadler‘s rough night on Friday at Daytona International Speedway has cost him the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship lead.

Sadler paced 28 laps in the first half of the Subway Firecracker 250, but after pitting on Lap 36, he had to re-visit pit road under green on Lap 44 due to a loose wheel on his car.

The extra stop ultimately knocked him off the lead lap but a caution at Lap 52 for debris enabled him to get the free pass and return to the lead lap.

From there, he worked his way back toward the Top 10 and was in 12th coming to a restart with three laps left in the scheduled 100-lap event.

But as the race went green, Chase Elliott was unable to get going from the front row as his car ran out of gas. That stacked his inside line and Sadler was among several cars who were sent spinning into the infield grass.

The race eventually finished under Green-White-Checkered, and Sadler took the checkered flag in 21st place. As a result, he’s now 12 points down to new series points leader Regan Smith as the scene shifts to New Hampshire next weekend.

Smith was leading the race at the start of the G-W-C, but lost the trophy to Kasey Kahne in a thrilling finish. Meanwhile, Sadler was left to contemplate a missed opportunity.

“We just had a loose left-rear wheel and that was a shame,” he told ESPN. “[Joe Gibbs Racing teammate] Kyle [Busch] and I had worked so great together all night when we wanted to. We really set the pace and made it hard on everybody else – and then we shot ourselves in the foot.

“We can’t be doing this many more times…On the tracks that we run the best at, we’ve got to get the most points and we weren’t able to do that tonight. So, we’ve dug ourselves a hole, and we gotta regroup and come back at New Hampshire.”

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