Remember Elliott Sadler's crash at Pocono in August?
After Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch got together, Sadler got hit from behind by AJ Allmendinger while checking up on the Long Pond Straightaway. Sadler's car went skidding at nearly full speed across the wet and muddy infield before it smashed into the Armco steel barrier that separated the track from the camping area.
The impact was so violent that Sadler's engine ended up in the middle of the tunnel turn, completely disengaged from his car.
In June, Kasey Kahne started a landscaping service on the backstretch as his car went into the bushes outside of the Long Pond Straight after it was airborne. That prompted Greg Biffle to say in a Sports Illustrated story that someone would be killed at Pocono because of the lack of safety measures at the track.
Now, Pocono Raceway is installing safety upgrades that directly address both of the issues that arose during Kahne and Sadler's crashes. A catch fence is being installed along the Long Pond Straight -- because Kahne didn't do a very good job of trimming the hedges -- and a SAFER barrier will replace the outdated Armco barrier. (Watkins Glen is also installing SAFER barriers in time for the 2011 race weekend)
We love crashes, and while the impact of Sadler's crash might have made you sick to your stomach, you also probably watched Kahne's car fly though the air more than once. And why do we love crashes? Because drivers don't get hurt. (Sadler had some bruising and got the wind knocked out of him, but ultimately was OK.) That's a testament to the safety of the current cars in NASCAR and the measures that most tracks have taken.
Now that Pocono is taking these steps, it's even less likely that Biffle's statement will be prescient. And that's a damn good thing.