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CUP: Sadler Walks From Wreck At Pocono Raceway

Elliott Sadler walked away from a violent accident Sunday at Pocono Raceway, where he hit a guardrail so hard that his engine flew out of his car.

LINK > UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: SUNOCO RED CROSS PENNSYLVANIA 500 - POCONO RACEWAY PDF > UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: SUNOCO RED CROSS PENNSYLVANIA 500 - POCONO RACEWAY

Sadler was collected in a chain-reaction crash on lap 165 that began when Kurt Busch got hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson. Busch spun and hit the outside wall, and then got hit by Clint Bowyer as he spun back across the track. As Busch hit the inside guardrail between Turns 1 and 2, Sadler got hit from behind, sending his car crashing into the inside guardrail.

Photos: Elliott Sadler Crash At Pocono

“I’m fine,” Sadler said. “I’m OK. I’m a little sore, I think from where the belts grabbed me. It knocked the breath out of me pretty good, but it’s definitely the hardest hit I’ve ever had in a race car.

“These new cars are built to be safer and if I can get out of that and walk through that, I think it did its job.”

Kurt Busch, angry and uninjured, had a simple explanation for the accident: “Got wrecked on the straightaway. Jimmie drove straight through us.”

Johnson said that was not the case.

“I went to bump-drafting like we had all been doing,” Johnson said. “I had watched him work the bump-draft with some other guys as well. I was just doing the same thing. We all were on the track.

“They were side drafting pretty hard and maybe when I came up to bump-draft him, his car wasn’t as stable as it needed to be. I’ll take responsibility where I need to. Certainly, I was part of the wreck. It wasn’t anything intentional and I hate that it crashed so many cars.”

Johnson said he was glad Sadler was OK and wasn’t surprised that Busch criticized him.

“I understand he took a heck of a hit,” Johnson said. “The last thing I wanted to do was cause a wreck or crash the 2 [of Kurt Busch]. I feel bad about that, but we’re all just racing real hard down the back.

“Kurt is not very fond of me, never has been, so I think whenever he has a chance to take a shot at me, he’ll probably do so. But certainly nothing intentional. And if he’d like to talk about it, I’d be more than willing to talk about it.”

Sadler said he could not see through the smoke and does not know who hit his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

“Everybody started checking up and I checked up, but whoever was behind did not and ran in the back of us and knocked me down through the grass,” Sadler said.

The grass was wet in the Turn 2 area where the accident occurred.

“I was along for the ride,” Sadler said. “It was a very hard hit.”

The hard hit also returned focus on the safety of Pocono Raceway for its inside guardrail as well as not having a catch fence in areas where there are no grandstands.

Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky said Saturday that a SAFER barrier is planned for the inside guardrail area and should be installed by next June.

The grass is not as easy to fix, Igdalsky said. To pave the area, he said, would require a huge lake in the infield to collect stormwater runoff because the track is in what is now an environmentally protected area.

“The incidents speak for themselves,” said four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon. “There are times when we’ve got to step up the technology and the safety of certain facilities. We’ve seen a few incidents here this year, and I think it’s going to be a wake-up call for some improvements.

“It’s a great track. We love coming here. But there’s definitely some areas that need to be improved.”

Photos: Elliott Sadler Crash At Pocono

The race was stopped for 28 minutes, 46 seconds to clean the track, repair the guardrail and because of rain.

“I’m just glad I’m OK,” Sadler said. “I’m glad my team at home does a good job of building safe race cars.”

LINK > UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: SUNOCO RED CROSS PENNSYLVANIA 500 - POCONO RACEWAY PDF > UNOFFICIAL DRIVER POINTS: SUNOCO RED CROSS PENNSYLVANIA 500 - POCONO RACEWAY

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