Elliott Sadler parked his car on pit road at Texas Motor Speedway and climbed out, no longer the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader. He removed the heat shields from his shoes and quickly hopped over the pit road wall, walking briskly into the night.
A disappointing 11th-place finish had just cost him all of the six-point lead he held over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. entering Saturday night's race, and Sadler was clearly discouraged.
"We just missed it," he said. "I don't know what the adjustments were, but it made the car a lot worse there at the end and we gave up a lot of positions."
Thanks to Stenhouse's fourth-place finish, the two drivers are now tied atop the Nationwide standings with two races to go. But Stenhouse has the tiebreaker based on having more wins this season.
"We got to run better if we want to win the championship," Sadler said. "We got to make better adjustments. Maybe I've got to do a better job communicating. We've got some stuff to work on moving forward."
Stenhouse, meanwhile, said he would liked to have finished better – his night started terribly by his standards, and he was down by 15 points in the "as they run" standings about halfway through the race. But the defending series champion couldn't hide a slight smile when asked if his team had more momentum than Sadler's heading into Phoenix and Homestead.
"It felt like we have had it the last few races, especially after Kansas," he said. "I know it can be deflating when they're outrunning us all race and we come back and finish in front of them and tie them in points. That's what we need going into Phoenix."
Naturally, Stenhouse wasn't ready to celebrate too much just yet. Being tied for the lead with two races to go doesn't mean much in the long run.
"We have to be leading after Homestead," he said. "That is still our goal and still what we have our eye on."