20 August 2012
Biffle wins Michigan after Johnson blows
Martin was quickly reassuring anxious fans that, "It was not as bad as it looked." He did admit that he'd been worried, though: "I was concerned right before I hit it. I thought, 'This could be one of those sudden stops!'"
"The guys had the #55 car basically land in our pit, and they all survived that fortunately," said Kasey Kahne later. "Thankfully when Mark Martin slid down pit road, he ended up halfway into our pit. One of our guys got hit a little bit by a tyre. His oil tank exploded and stuff. That was really close to a really bad situation but it turned out all right."
Kahne had also spun in the accident and went through the grass, suffering front fender damage to his car which meant that once things had calmed down on pit lane, he needed an extended series of visits for repairs. "They fixed my car," said Kahne. "I had some right front damage there. They patched it up pretty nicely. It didn't drive perfect after that, but it did drive pretty closely to how it was, which was really nice.
Calling the accident "unfortunate," Martin said there had been nothing that he could have done to control the point of impact once the accident had started. "I fought it with everything I had. With where I came from and the speed I came from and the confines of pit road, I couldn't miss it," he said.
Asked whether the accident pointed out a serious design flaw in the pit wall construction, Martin shook his head. "I'm not sure you can ever completely fix something like that. That was a pretty freak angle that I got at that. I'm not sure what you could do."
Brad Keselowski was a little more alarmed about the incident that he'd seen: "Over the course of time, we always get complacent and think that we've hit all the buttons on the safety side," he said. "Then you see something like that. It shows you why you have to never quit working at making these cars and tracks safer."
Martin's grace under fire - and in the face of crushing disappointment from what had looked set to be a very strong day for the five-time winner at Michigan in the past - was in contrast to some markedly frayed tempers up and down pit road. Even long time team mates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were fast falling out at Michigan on Sunday afternoon.
Gordon was furious with a move that the #88 pulled off at the restart for Martin's accident that saw Earnhardt go four-wide with Gordon, Jeff Burton and Regan Smith - and then slid up the track nearly wiping out the #24. "He can thank me for not wrecking him," Gordon radioed his pit crew after the near miss. "That was stupid."
When he was out of the car later on, Gordon elaborated: "I didn't think it was very smart what he did. He took me four-wide and then he slid up in front of me. If I hadn't checked up, I would have wrecked him and a bunch of us," he fumed. "In that moment, he wasn't treating me like a teammate ... I don't care who I'm racing out there; I'm going to show my displeasure if I'm not happy about something. But that one was pretty close.
"I wasn't doing anything different than I would have done," Gordon continued. "He's racing hard. I don't blame him for taking me four-wide. But if you're going to take a guy four-wide, don't come sliding up the racetrack because that is going to wreck you and other people."
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