Mark Martin is one of the brightest guys in NASCAR, but he was taken aback when a television reporter asked him how much impact his body absorbed in a race-ending crash with David Gilliland.
“I don’t know,” Martin replied. “What kind of question is that?”
Gilliland lost control of his No. 38 Ford coming out of turn two on lap 65, tagged the wall and spun across the track with a big pack of cars coming up behind him.
Martin dove toward the low side of the track, hoping to get around the trouble, but his No. 01 Chevrolet slammed hard into Gilliland.
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“I should have missed it,” Martin said. “I couldn’t see him in the smoke and I really didn’t feel comfortable driving into the smoke now knowing where he was. So I tried to get under him, and he came out of the smoke coming to the inside.”
Gilliland blamed himself for starting the whole mess.
“I was passing a lapped car and ran out of room and got loose,” he said. “I’m real disappointed. We were obviously looking to bring home a better finish. We felt like we had the car to do it.”
As it was, Gilliland finished next-to-last in the 43-car field. Martin was last.
“It was a pretty hard hit, but I have had harder,” said the 48-year-old Martin, a part-time competitor this season. “Thank God I am not racing for points.”