Robert Patrick Jr. was already a strong believer in the ADRLâ€™s safety requirements.
But after the first crash in his professional career, Patrick firmly believes they prevented something much worse from happening this past weekend at the Summit Racing Equipment Ohio Drags VI presented by Mickey Thompson at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
The Pro Nitrous standout was involved in a major wreck during the first qualifying session, crashing hard into both guardwalls. He broke a bone in his foot and suffered injuries to his knees and ribs, but Patrick believes the safety requirements from the ADRL made a tremendous difference in avoiding serious injuries.
â€œI couldnâ€™t be happier with the ADRL and everything they did. All the safety stuff they have implemented worked and it probably saved my life,â€ Patrick said. â€œIt could have been a lot worse.
â€œI canâ€™t reiterate enough how quick the response from the safety team was. Everybody involved did a great job and Iâ€™m here today because of all that.â€
Running out of the right lane, Patrick and his Jerry Bickel Race Cars Mustang got loose near the finish line of what appeared to be a strong run, darting hard to the left and crashing hard into the left guardwall.
With debris flying high into the air, Patrick went back across and crashed hard into the right guardwall before coming to a stop.
Patrick credited the ISP head and seat pads for helping absorb much of the blows, as well as the 7-point safety harness device, noting that his helmet wasnâ€™t cracked despite the extreme collision.
Patrick also came away impressed with the job done by Jerry Bickel Race Cars in building a car that kept him as safe as possible, noting the importance of a poured seat.
â€œIt would have been a whole lot worse without the padding. The poured seat kept me in place and that really helped me as well,â€ Patrick said. â€œWithout the poured seat, Iâ€™m certain I would have broken my back.
â€œJerry Bickel built one hell of a race car and it helped save my life.â€
Patrick noted it was the first wreck since he started his professional career in 1993.
After a strong .950 60-foot time and a run of 2.59 to 330-feet, Patrick said the car got about a tire-width left of the groove, causing the tires to spin in third gear when the fourth nitrous system came on.
But just when Patrick went to turn the wheel to get it to move right and back into the groove, the car shifted into fourth gear, causing the Mustang to jerk across the track and into the left guardwall.
â€œIt was just heartbreaking. The car was on a real good run and we had a good set-up,â€ Patrick said. â€œWe had a fast car and one that we felt was capable of winning these last couple races. But Iâ€™ll move on and Iâ€™m just thankful Iâ€™m alive.â€
The 2012 season marked the first year in Pro Nitrous for Patrick, and it had gone incredibly well.
He won the Northeast Drags II presented by Penske in May at Maple Grove Raceway and remained in contention for a world championship for most of the year.
Now, heâ€™s motivated to come back stronger in 2013 and said the ADRL safety measures will have him even more confident behind the wheel.
â€œYou would like to end your year on a positive note, but we will fix it. We have a strong program here with the help from Pat Musi and Rickie Smith, and every race this year the car ran strong,â€ Patrick said.
â€œThis just motivates you to come back. The motor wasnâ€™t hurt other than cosmetic stuff, and the car can be fixed and come back as good as new. Hopefully we can come back and pick up where we left off.
â€œAs soon as Iâ€™m healed up, I will be ready to go. Iâ€™m looking forward to coming back and racing with the ADRL and thatâ€™s going to be my main focus next year.â€