David Gilliland, last year's runner-up at Infineon, saw his chances for a repeat performance grow much more difficult because of something he didn't see.
Entering the track for Saturday's first practice, Gilliland was reaching down to turn on the fan switches in his #71 Chevrolet and failed to notice John Andretti's #34 Chevy in front of him, waiting to merge with traffic on the 1.99-mile road course.
Gilliland plowed into the back of Andretti's car, damaging both Chevys severely. He will join Marcos Ambrose at the rear of the field in Martin Truex Jr.'s backup car, under a lease agreement with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
Andretti's team spent Saturday's second practice session trying to repair the primary car.
"It was 100 per cent my fault," Gilliland said. "I was exiting pit road and looked down for a brief moment to turn on my fan switches, and John stopped in front of me to let some cars go by, and I hit him."
Gilliland still managed a wry smile and a plug for his car owner, Kevin Buckler, whose Adobe Road Winery is the primary sponsor of the car.
"This just increases our motivation for the race," Gilliland said. "I smashed a couple of grapes on the Adobe Road Winery car this morning, so tomorrow we will try to make some wine."
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News