NASCAR & Auto Racing

Sadler, Busch both OK after scary wrecks

NASCAR workers tended to driver Elliott Sadler, lying on ground, after his crash near the end of the Pennsylvania 500. Sadler, who won Saturday's trucks race at Pocono, finished 34th Sunday.
NASCAR workers tended to driver Elliott Sadler, lying on ground, after his crash near the end of the Pennsylvania 500. Sadler, who won Saturday's trucks race at Pocono, finished 34th Sunday. AP

LONG POND, Pa. — Elliot Sadler climbed out of his battered car and laid down on his back on the Pocono asphalt.

He felt lucky to have nothing more than a sore chest and stomach after a wreck that dropped the engine out of his No. 19 Ford.

"I'm OK, I'm a little sore. The breath got knocked out of me," Sadler said after walking out of the infield care center after the crash at Sunday's Pennsylvania 500. "It was probably the hardest hit I've ever had in a race car."

It was the second of two separate wrecks on Lap 165 that also sent Kurt Busch to the garage.

Replays showed Jimmie Johnson's car appearing to hit Busch's No. 2 Dodge from behind. Busch's car swerved in front of Clint Bowyer's Chevy before slipping sideways into the infield grass and smashing into the infield barrier.

Busch walked away, but the race was halted for 20-plus minutes while workers cleaned up extensive debris and welded the barrier back together.

After getting checked out by medics, a curt Busch pointed blame straight at the No. 48 car.

"I wrecked on the straightaway. Jimmie Johnson drove straight through us," he said before being whisked away to his trailer. Busch was fifth in points entering Sunday.

Johnson, who finished 10th, said he came up to bump draft and the cars made contact. He said he "felt bad" about the crash and that he didn't intend to ruin Busch's afternoon.

When told of Busch's comment, Johnson answered, "Kurt isn't very fond of me, never has been. I think when he has a chance to take a shot at me, he probably will do so." Johnson said he was willing to talk about the crash with Busch.

Sadler got caught up in the resulting slowdown behind Busch's crash. He said he saw smoke and a "car going sideways" ahead of him when he was clipped from behind and slammed into the inside wall, too. Sadler didn't know who hit him, and replays didn't get a clear shot of his wreck.

"Someone ran into the back of us and turned us, turned us inside into the wet grass, into the guardrail, so I was along for the ride," Sadler said.

It was a disappointing ending to a weekend that had a promising start after Sadler won the inaugural NASCAR trucks race at Pocono, holding off Kasey Kahne on a green-white-checkered finish.

"I'm a little sore through my chest and my stomach, but that's from where the seat belts did their job and grabbed me and kept me in the car," Sadler said Sunday, "and I'm thankful for that."

4 tires, no win for Gordon

A four-tire pit change may have left Jeff Gordon just short of an elusive spin on Victory Lane.

The four-time NASCAR champion appeared to be in good shape up front when the No. 24 team decided to take four tires during a yellow-flag pit stop on Lap 170, just before the race restarted following wrecks that took out Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler.

But other drivers including race winner Greg Biffle took two tires, and the precious seconds on pit row likely set back Gordon.

Gordon said four tires was the right call, but "I'm bummed out that we just can't catch a break." Gordon dropped out of the top 10, then scrambled back into sixth for the checkered flag.

"It just seem like when we get ourselves in position to win the race, it just seem like we can't catch those breaks," Gordon said. "You make those breaks by working hard, teamwork, good fast race cars and putting yourself in the right place."

More weather delays forced by on-and-off showers also slowed down Gordon's pace, and Biffle pulled away after the last restart on Lap 179.

"The way the weather was today, it didn't work out for us, and that's kind of been the story for us this year as far as victories are concerned."

Rough day for McMurray

Jamie McMurray came back to the pack at Pocono a week after his impressive Sprint Cup series win at the Brickyard in Indianapolis

Things didn't go quite as smoothly Sunday as McMurray finished the 500-mile race in 22nd place. It didn't help that McMurray was assessed two pit row speeding penalties that dropped him two laps down mid-race.