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Elliott Sadler earns second win of the season with first Darlington triumph

Dale Earnhardt Jr. called Sadler after his big Help a Hero 200 win

DARLINGTON, South Carolina - Elliott Sadler’s first Darlington Raceway win was 19 years in the making.

Entering the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200, Sadler had made a combined 30 starts between the Xfinity and Sprint Cup Series at Darlington without a win. Saturday, Sadler dug deep with two laps to go to finally mark the famed speedway off his list.

The victory was also his second win of the season.

Sadler, who led a race-high 75 of 147 laps, fended off a challenge from Denny Hamlin after Hamlin got to the inside of him in Turn 3. The JR Motorsports driver had been in control of the race before hitting the wall in Turn 2 with two laps to go.

But as Hamlin got to his inside, Sadler charged off Turn 4 to hold his position and drive to his 12th career Xfinity Series start. It was Sadler’s first Darlington win in 13 Xfinity Series starts.

MORE: Results and statistics from following Darlington

MORE: Elliott Sadler extends point lead after Darlington

“I told you this morning the stories of this place and myself,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “This paint scheme; Dale Jarrett riding shotgun with me today. It’s very much a relief. I got my family here with me and I’ve been wanting to win here for a long time.”

Sadler took the lead for the final time on Lap 112 when he drove around the outside of Hamlin on a restart.

Hamlin finished second, Daniel Suarez finished third, Kyle Larson finished fourth, and Brennan Poole came home fifth.

HOW SADLER WON: Sadler led the final 36 laps after taking the lead on Lap 112.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Erik Jones finished sixth in his first Darlington start ... Jeremy Clements earned his third top-10 finish of the season with an eighth-place effort ... Ryan Preece scored a career-best finish with 10th-place.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Darrell Wallace Jr. finished outside the top 10 for the third time in five races with a 17th-place effort ... Paul Menard finished 20th after starting from the pole ... Kevin Harvick suffered an engine issue and finished 35th.

NOTABLE: Sadler became the fourth repeat winner of 2016 with his second win on Saturday afternoon. He also became the 29th different winner at Darlington.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is for Dale Earnhardt Jr. My owner has given me one heck of an opportunity this year and I know he’s going through a lot this year. This is for you, my man.” --- Elliott Sadler

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series makes their second visit to Richmond International Raceway for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 on Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

Follow @KellyCrandall