By admin | February 27, 2012
By Richard Allen
For the first time in NASCAR history, the Daytona 500 was postponed from its scheduled Sunday date. That, in turn, had everyone filled with even more anticipation than usual.
Perhaps that anticipation was too much to handle for some as a hard crash collected several pre-race favorites. Just after crossing the start/finish line to complete lap one, Jimmie Johnson’s car turned suddenly to the right after contact from the front bumper of Elliott Sadler.
As the Johnson car sat prone in the middle of the track, several cars in the still bunched field were unable to avoid. The #48 car took a hard hit on the left side, which left the five time Sprint Cup champion looking a bit dazed as the in-car camera showed him sitting in his car after the incident.
“That hit in the door was pretty hard hit. When I was sitting in the middle of the race track I knew someone was gonna hit me,” Johnson said.
For his part, Sadler was apologetic. “I fricking hate it,” he told his spotter over the team radio. “I know Jimmie’s mad as hell at me.”
Sadler’s spotter indicated that he felt as though the fault for the accident lay further ahead in the pack. It was his belief that the outside line had stalled out and Johnson appeared to have slowed, which caused Sadler to tap the 48 car.
Defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was among those who were involved. “I have no idea what happened but this is devastating for this team. Man, this is tough,” a dejected Bayne said.
Kurt Busch had his car destroyed in the crash just after making his Sprint Cup debut for owner James Finch and his Phoenix Racing team. David Ragan was also knocked from contention in his first start for a new team.
And notably, the highly touted debut of Danica Patrick was also ruined as her car suffered extensive damage in the wreck.
But of all the drivers, it was Johnson who was perhaps the hardest hit in more ways than one. Of the five crashed, he is the only driver considered a serious championship threat. “I’m just really, really bummed to start the season this way,” he declared. “For all the hard work that has gone into getting this Lowe’s Chevrolet ready for tonight; we didn’t get to complete two-and-a-half miles of green flag racing.
“So, I’m pretty bummed,” he added. “I’m ok. I’m just really bummed-out for this whole Lowe’s team. To work as hard as everyone did at Hendrick Motorsports to get this Lowe’s Chevrolet and to have it barely complete two-and-a-half miles of green flag racing is pretty sad. Disappointed, but nothing I can do about it now. We’ll just go on and go to Phoenix and set our marks on winning that race.”
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