It’s Time for David Gilliland to Exit Nascar

From the Crossville Chronicle-Crossville, TN Wed. Nov. 5, 2008
By Joe Dunn / joe@onpitroad.com

Carl Edwards claimed a fuel mileage win at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday and took a big chunk out of Jimmie Johnson’s lead, reducing it to 106 points. But that lead would have been cut even further had it not been for the actions of David Gilliland, who pulled what was undoubtedly the biggest boneheaded move of the season.
Juan Pablo Montoya was at Texas with a brand new car that Chip Ganassi Racing had built ‘in house’ and this new car had shown major improvements for the team. Starting 26th on the field, Montoya charged ahead early and managed to spend most of the day running in the top 10. That is, until he began having some problems late in the race with the ‘laps down’ car of David Gilliland in the #38 Yates racing Ford.
Montoya was attempting to get buy David and claimed that David had forced him into the wall. “I had a good run off the corner and he runs me to the wall. I did all I could, but I still hit the wall. So I went into one and just hit him a little bit to say, ‘Hey, I was there.’ Know what I mean?
As expected Gilliland saw the exchange quite differently from his vantage point. “My spotter said I was clear, I kind of slid up in front of him and he jacked my rear wheels off the ground going down the back straightaway and then got into me again going into turn 1 and 2 and jacked me way up the track.”
After a couple laps of the bumping, the big one came on lap 263, coming out of turn four, Montoya was low and Gilliland was high. Montoya slid up the track and while doing so, Gilliland started moving down low, clipping the left rear of the 42 car with his right front. The result of course was Montoya’s car being turned head-on into the outside wall.
The force of the crash destroyed the 42 car and of course ended the day for the Texaco Havoline team. Fortunately Juan Montoya was able to walk away uninjured, but that could have easily been a career ending crash. Gilliland’s car suffered some damage but was still in one piece. The race was further delayed as Montoya’s car got stuck on Pit Road and took extra time to clear.
Gilliland was called to the pits and given a 5 lap penalty, but the Nascar officials in the tower decided to park him for the remained of the race. With both drivers out of the race, they were both summoned to the Nascar Hauler to speak with Nascar Sprint Cup Officials. It was announced after the race by Nascar Sprint Cup Series Director, John Darby that no further penalties will be assessed.
I was one who cheered for David when he claimed his first victory in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky in 2006. The kid with no sponsorship and a part time team mastered all those big money teams like Roush, Gibbs, Hendrick and DEI to pull of the big surprise. That win catapulted him to the Nascar Sprint Cup Series as Yates racing was suddenly short a drive with the defection of Elliott Sadler. Gilliland was the ’diamond in the ruff’ suddenly discovered at Kentucky. Winning the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2007 set this kid up to be the next ’darling’ of racing. I had high hoped for David, but after Daytona, that light has barely flickered over the past two seasons.
After watching Sundays race, add me to the list of folks who felt that Gilliland’s actions were so egregious that it called for his suspension for at least the final two race of 2008, and possibly much longer. Having been a race fan for over 40 years, there should be no place in the sport for such a reckless act. With these cars traveling at close to 200 mph, David may as well have aimed a gun at Juan, the potential danger would have been equal.