32nd At Martinsville
|LATE RACE ACCIDENT FORCES GILLILAND TO FINISH 32nd AT MARTINSVILLE
MARTINSVILLE, VA (October 19, 2008) – Short track racing is fast and furious, but David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Digital TV Transition Ford enjoys the action that a short track provides to both the drivers and the fans. Gilliland grew up racing on short tracks out West and Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway reminded the driver of his early years in racing. Unfortunately, the action that short track racing is known for, caught Gilliland late in the race as he became the innocent victim in an accident that forced the team to leave Martinsville with a 32nd-place finish for their efforts.
For the second week in a row, and the ninth time this season, Sprint Cup Series qualifying was cancelled Friday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Mother Nature once again soaked the speedway with rain showers all morning and afternoon which forced NASCAR officials to set the starting line-up for Sunday’s race according the current owner point standings. Since Friday’s track activities were washed out, teams only had two practice sessions Saturday to sort out their preferred car set-ups for the race.
Cooler temperatures moved into the Martinsville area Saturday as well which meant that teams were now finding their cars a bit tight-handling.
Gilliland and his No. 38 Digital TV Transition Ford rolled off the starting grid from the 28th starting position Sunday afternoon as the green flag waved at 1:48 p.m. EST. The 43-car field began the 500 lap race under sunny skies and temperatures of 58 degrees.
Gilliland began his battle for track position immediately and as he searched for the line that would help him advance, he radioed in to his crew chief Cully Barraclough that the car was “too free at the very start, but then is too tight across the center.” Barraclough made a note of the tightness and told his driver that during the first caution, the team would make an adjustment.
The first caution of the afternoon came on lap 29 and Barraclough called the Digital TV Transition Ford to pit road for a track bar adjustment and right side tires only. Following the restart, Gilliland called in to Barraclough over team radio communications that the car no longer showed signs of it being loose on entry following the track bar change. Barraclough reminded his driver to “be patient, we still have a lot of racing to go.”
The second caution of the race came on lap 62 as Gilliland and his No. 38 machine visited pit road for a wedge adjustment and left side tires before the restart. By lap 77, Gilliland radioed in that the Digital TV Transition Ford was “way tighter than it had been at the start of the race.” The No. 38 team continued to make changes in an effort to free up the car’s handling in the turns so that Gilliland could accelerate in the turns where he needed to.
The Digital TV Transition team caught a break on lap 257 when Gilliland was the recipient of the “lucky dog” free pass which brought his No. 38 Ford back onto the lead lap following the eighth caution of the day. Gilliland continued to be plagued by tight-handling conditions in his car for the remainder of the race as his team made changes to the trackbar, rubbers, and right rear of the car.
With 13 laps remaining in the race, Gilliland was hit hard into the wall after being hit by the No. 44 of David Reutimann. The damage was so severe that Gilliland had to cautiously bring his car to pit road so that the team could put a new left rear tire on in order to drive around to the garage. The accident ended the team’s afternoon early and left Gilliland and his Digital TV Transition Ford with a 32nd-place finish at Martinsville.
“It’s such a disappointing way to end our weekend,” stated Gilliland. “We had a pretty tight-handling car all afternoon, but my team made adjustments all race long to help loosen it up in the turns a little more for me. I really think we could have brought home a top-20 finish today for our Digital TV Transition Ford, but unfortunately we got shoved into the wall there right at the end and the damage was just too much to be able to repair in time.”
Jimmie Johnson won Sunday’s TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville after a green-white-checkered finish allowed him to pull away from the field on the final restart. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carl Edwards finished second and third respectively. Johnson’s win was his fifth win in the series at Martinsville and allowed him to increase his lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. Gilliland’s Yates Racing teammate, Travis Kvapil, finished 19th in his No. 28 ALL SPORT Ford Fusion.
Next weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the seventh race of the Chase, the Pep Boys Auto 500. Pre-race television coverage begins Sunday, October 26th at 1:00 p.m. EST on ABC. Radio coverage will be provided by the Performance Racing Network.