HUNTERSVILLE – It was the setting so nice, they won there twice.

Joe Gibbs Racing snagged two victories at the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last weekend. The Huntersville-based team opened with Elliott Sadler winning the Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 on May 3. It was the 10th Nationwide Series victory of Sadler’s career, his first at Talladega and first since 2012.

It also was quite a gift three days after his April 30 birthday.

“It means a lot for me to get this JGR team to victory lane,” Sadler said. “They’ve worked their butts off last year, and we weren’t able to reward them. We have a lot of momentum on our side, we let one get away from us at Darlington, so to come back here and get one for all of our sponsors is really good.”

On May 4, Denny Hamlin drove the JGR FedEx No. 11 Toyota to victory in the Aaron’s 499. He avoided debris on the track that prompted a caution on the last lap to celebrate his 300th start in the series. Hamlin’s career totals include 24 victories and 86 top-5 finishes.

“It feels good to be back in victory lane in a points-paying event anyway,” Hamlin said. “My pit crew picked me up no less than 10 spots every single week and they did it again today.”


Bowyer has a newsworthy spring

CORNELIUS – Clint Bowyer has had plenty to celebrate this season.

The driver for Cornelius-based Michael Waltrip Racing signed a multi-year extension with the company May 5, two days after finishing third in the Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.

Bowyer got married in the Bahamas over Easter weekend, and he and wife Lorra are expecting a baby boy.


Nationwide Series tightens up

HUNTERSVILLE – Elliot Sadler’s victory last week moved him to within one point of Nationwide Series leader Chase Elliott (who finished 15th).

Regan Smith, of Mooresville-based JR Motorsports, is only three points behind Elliott.


The truck series resumes

HUNTERSVILLE – The Camping World Truck Series resumes May 9 at Kansas Speedway (8 p.m., Fox Sports TV). Ryan Blaney, a Huntersville resident, finished third in the race last season.



We rank Herald Weekly-area drivers in the racing world:


1. Denny Hamlin – Cornelius resident survived last-lap caution flag to win the Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was his first win at a restrictor-plate track and likely ensured Hamlin of a berth in the Chase.

2. Elliott Sadler – Won the Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing. It was a great weekend for JGR, which also snagged the Sprint Cup race.

3. Clint Bowyer – His third-place Sprint Cup finish at Talladega was his best of the season for Cornelius-based Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer jumped to 18th in the drivers’ points race.

4. Brian Vickers – Avoided the nasty wrecks at Talladega to finish fourth in the Sprint Cup race, his second top-5 finish this season for Michael Waltrip Racing.

5. A.J. Allmendinger – The Huntersville resident finished fifth in the Sprint Cup race at Talladega. In 10 starts this season, he has three top-10 finishes and a top-10. He’s inching closer to a spot in the Chase.