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Bad, bad crash late in Pocono's Pennsylvania 500, but NASCAR's COT & HANS save Elliott Sadler from disaster

  Elliott Sadler lucky to be alive (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Elliott Sadler may be lucky to still be alive, after the savage hit he took in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.
   If not for the head-and-neck HANS safety restraint, which had been mandated by NASCAR since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sadler – who hit the inside dirt-packed guardrail head-on – might well have been killed.
   Remember when Greg Biffle in June told Sports Illustrated "they're going to kill somebody" at this track "if they don't change that racetrack."
   That might not have been that much of an overstatement, judging from the Sadler incident, which ripped the engine completely out of the car.
   Amazingly Sadler managed to crawl out of his car. He immediately lay down on the asphalt in serious pain. But after a brief trip to the infield hospital, he was released, sore but alive.
   The track plans to make some major safety improvements, announced back in May. There will be more SAFER barriers, the soft-walls, and a catch-fence in some areas. The soft-walls are planned for the inside wall between turns one and two, down the Long Pond straight, and from the tunnel turn over to turn three.
    The incident began when Jimmie Johnson, bump-drafting with Kurt Busch, hit him too hard and pushed him into Clint Bowyer. Busch then smashed hard into the outside wall, in a vicious crash. Somewhere in the check-up behind all that, Sadler got clipped in the rear and he slammed the infield guardrail hard.
   NASCAR has G-force boxes to measure crash impacts such as that.
   Upon leaving the hospital, Sadler said "I'm fine. I'm okay. 
    "I'm a little sore...where the belts grabbed me. 
    "It knocked the breath out of me pretty good. 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 away, I think it did its job."
    Sadler said he couldn't clearly see what happened in front of him to trigger it.
    Busch curtly blamed Johnson: "I got crashed on the straightaway. Jimmie Johnson just drove right through us."
   "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. 
   "I've got to thank all my guys back at home that put these things together.  It knocked the engine out of it...it knocked the swaybar tube and the whole swaybar out of it, and the whole left-front wheel assembly. But I'm still in one piece, so it did its job. 
    "The way it hit the guardrail was pretty tough."

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   Not much left of Sadler's car after the hardest hit of his career (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

I've been saying it for

I've been saying it for years...Pocono is the worse racetrack on the circuit. It nearly killed Bobby Allison, severely injured Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and had Davey Allison barrel-rolling outta the Tunnel Turn back in '91 or '92. The France Family is always kissin' The Mattiolis to "allow" them to race up there. Why? It's the only major speedway between two of the largest markets in the country, NYC & Philly...Ohhhh, now they wanna put up safer barriers after someone damn near gets killed! From the Turn One, Tunnel Turn to Turn Three, the speeds reach up to, well over 170+ mph...grassy shoulders off the track whereas most places...even Daytona and Talladega, those areas now asphalted to slow the cars down in case they go into a spin off track. Armco Barriers against a dirt embankment? Are you kidding me? What protection is that? That's like having a brick wall coated with 1-inch of cotton when you punch it at full force. It's stupid. It's all dollars & no common sense. The Mattioli's don't wanna spend the money to fix up the joint. NASCAR/France Family sucks up to them because of the location. Now that there's public opinion about all this, maybe we can get the Pocono races down from 500 miles to 400 miles. That way any rain delays or drama won't drag out the process.

agreed. sadler nearly got

agreed. sadler nearly got killed; and safety at this track has been paramount, even back in 06 or 07 when gordon lost the brakes and slammed the wall. the racing is ok at best, but the safety "improvements" still leave the actual age of this track back in the 90's. it's about time that the glen gets a second race and this place loses a race. how long will nascar wait before someone gets killed at the place?

i do find it more than ironic

i do find it more than ironic that nascar is so concerned with what drivers might be saying, enough to secretly fine them $50,000, but that nascar is so lackadaisical about SAFER barriers and grass next to 200mph asphalt. sounds like misplaced priorities to me.....
if Elliott Sadler had been seriously hurt in that crash, just days after the word came out about nascar's secret penalties, i dont think the fans would have taken very kindly to the situation....

Man I was all up in arms,

Man I was all up in arms, trying to say the same thing that WScott34 says. I just can't add anymore, except to say yes NASCAR "kisses up to the Mattiolis" to me because of some warped "run with who brung ya" thing. They helped NASCAR in the 1970s and now NASCAR thinks they still owe that debt. THAT DEBT IS PAID FOR NASCAR, & DO YOU HAVE TO STILL HONOR THAT DEBT WITH THE LIVES OF THE DRIVERS? And really it just gets down to this, it really does...Does NASCAR pay more attention to drivers' opinions on Twitter than walking each and every track with the right people to point out the bad spots? You can't eliminate every threat but geezuzchrist no catch fence on the backstretch with pretty little bushes that would spear a driver like a kabob in the right circumstances, and then those things that jut out like a skyscraper laid on its side. What does it take to wake these idiots up? NASCAR is asleep at the wheel--oh but they want to be like the Ministers of Propaganda--and the Mattioli's, nice people I guess, but it appears they only like the money.

Thanks to Dale Earnhardt's

Thanks to Dale Earnhardt's sacrificial death-Elliot Sadler survived a potentially fatal crash. The car and the HANS device saved his life!!!

No thanks to Pocono for the old style earth berm/steel barrier!!!

Seems I heard a remark by the ownership that they really didn't need a race sponsor because they "had plenty of money". If you are so well heeled, why wasn't the track updated with SAFER barriers a long time back????

How about EVERY sanctioning group boycotts this joke of a track until it is brought up to date!!!

will you people give pocono a

will you people give pocono a break, that place has sell out or near sell out crowds for both races there every year and even the truck race there on saturday probably had one of the biggest audiences the trucks had all year. yes they might be a little behind in safety but it is still a great facility that deserves 2 cup races, sadler survived with no injuries so i don't see what the big deal is. Pocono is the best track in nascar with the best fans in nascar, oh yeah keep both races 500 miles too!!!!!

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