Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Elliott Sadler talks about his wreck with Jimmie Johnson

   During Tuesday night's edition of NASCAR Race Hub on Speed, Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, re-capped his incident with five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson. He spoke with host Danielle Trotta about what happened.

   “I just kind of got into the back of Jimmie, it was 100-percent my fault,” said Sadler, describing the incident that started as the field had just entered the race’s second lap. “It got other cars involved like you see in a lot of the restrictor plate races. We were coming into the outside lane, through the tri-oval, the 78 (Regan Smith) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) kind of get bunched up a little bit. They came down and its 100-percent my fault in getting into the back of Jimmie.

   “We were kind of bogged down, everyone was side-by-side and I didn’t check up in time, and I got into the left-rear quarter (panel) of Jimmie. It was just a little bit, but that is usually all it takes at these types of speeds. It’s a bad way to get started.”

   Sadler also talked about the phone call he made to Johnson Tuesday morning.

    “You never want to be involved in a situation like this. Being good friends with Jimmie, and his crew, (as they) actually pitted my truck last year in Bristol (Tenn.). I saw his guys last night at the airport, and I apologized to all of them. I called Jimmie the first thing this morning just to say to him, ‘Look. And explained to him what happened. I was sorry. I had no excuses. It was 100 percent my fault.’ I just probably really shouldn’t have been racing that hard, that soon. I snuck up on him a lot quicker than I thought," Sadler said.

   "Jimmie handled it like he handles everything else. He’s just a class act and a good guy. I also called Chad Knaus also. We reached out to those guys as well. It was just a tough way to get the racing season started.”

Three days' worth of the Daytona 500


NASCAR and its tracks have all kinds of contingency plans for various emergencies. But sometimes you just have to learn from experience. It seems save to say that all the work that went into dealing with the crumbling of asphalt and the pothole that emerged during the 2010 Daytona 500 played a role in NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway's ability to deal with the jet dryer explosion and resulting fuel spill on the track this year. So in a sense, while the 2010 race may have been a black-eye, what was learned from it helped allow the 2012 version of the race from becoming a bigger one.

It was somewhat surprising to see how little a factor Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards were in this year's 500. The two drivers who battled down to the wire for the 2011 Sprint Cup title had shown to have fast cars at Speedweeks. Edwards won the pole for the 500 while Stewart won his Gatorade 150-mile qualifying race. Both eventually got involved in late-race accidents in the 500 but were rarely up front.

I don't know if Danica Patrick is going to be a great NASCAR driver. At this point, neither does anyone else. What she deserves is the opportunity to find out – and without unrealistic expectations lofted on her from the get-go. What she also doesn't need are TV announcers who constantly try to bolster her "case" by making outrageous claims. Examples: Claiming Patrick, who had yet turned a lap in the a Cup race, is now the "face" of NASCAR. Another: Suggesting that same driver was one that could teach others like five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson has done quite well on his own before Patrick's arrival. That kind of talk enrages far more NASCAR fans than it engages.