A day after the first accident in the rain-delayed Daytona 500, both Elliott Sadler and Jimmie Johnson have buried the hatchet in a classy show of sportsmanship.
In the tri-oval on lap 2, Sadler nudged Johnson into a spin, with the ensuing crash seeing Johnson hit the outside retaining wall, and then bounce back across the track only to be speared by the oncoming David Ragan.
In the morning, Sadler called Johnson to apologize. Johnson thanked Sadler on Twitter, tweeting, “You're a good man @Elliott_Sadler, thanks for the call.” Sadler responded, “You handled this like you do everything else. First Class Gentleman.”
Sadler expanded on the accident and call in an interview Tuesday evening with SPEED's NASCAR Race Hub program Tuesday night, and host Danielle Trotta.
“I just kind of got into the back of Jimmie, it was 100 percent my fault,” Sadler said. “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 got 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 described to Trotta that the call was "one of the most difficult phone calls you have ever had to make."
“It definitely was,” Sadler said. “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.
“Jimmie handled it like he handles everything else. He's just a class act and a good guy. I also called [Johnson's crew chief] Chad Knaus. We reached out to those guys as well. It was just a tough way to get the racing season started.”