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A chance to win the 500 would have been sweet redemption for Sadler, who instead was left wondering what he did wrong.
"If I would have made a better and smarter move, I'd be in Victory Lane right now," he said. "I put my heart and soul to come in here to Daytona, Speedweeks, try to compete at the top of my game, 'cause I knew I had a lot of eyes on me to run good.
"It would have been cool to finish like that, but just wasn't meant to be. Very hard to swallow. Very emotional."
David Ragan was sixth and was followed by Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Reed Sorenson and Kurt Busch.
Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. was 11th. Defending race winner Ryan Newman was 36th. Joey Logano, who at 18 was the youngest starter in race history, finished 43rd.
The racing picked up much earlier than usual, as most everyone knew it was really a race against the rain.
So it was no surprise when Dale Earnhardt Jr., frustrated by two pit-road mistakes that had dropped him a lap down, aggressively raced Brian Vickers for position on a restart just past the halfway mark.
Vickers blocked an attempted pass by pushing Earnhardt down below the yellow out-of-bounds line. When Earnhardt re-entered the racing surface, he clipped the left-rear corner of Vickers' car to trigger a nine-car accident.
"My goal is to keep Junior behind me," Vickers said. "I went to block him. I beat him to the yellow line and then he just turned us. To wreck somebody intentionally like that in front of the entire field is really kind of dangerous. That's my problem with it."
The accident knocked out Kyle Busch, who had led a race-high 88 laps and figured he was in position for the win.
"Some guys having some bad days and not doing their best out there, just made their bad day our bad day," Busch said. "It's just a shame. It's just unfortunate that two guys got together that were a lap down that were fighting over nothing."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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