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This was no bump & run

November 8th, 2008

Last week at Texas Juan Pablo Montoya (#42) was wrecked on purpose by David Gilliland in the #38 car. Gilliland said “I was trying to let him go and got a good run off the corner and just kind of misjudged it coming down across him.” Few who watched the race believe him. Speeds at Texas can approach 200 mph. Even with the addition of soft walls it is still extremely dangerous to hit any wall at those speeds.  It is not just speed that contributes to serious injury or death. It also is the angle and other things not controlled by softer walls.
 There are cases of bumping another car because of anger on the track but this was a case of putting Montoya in the wall. At many short tracks across America (and in Canada and Mexico) you will find racers who will also shove someone into the wall. I had it done to me once and it practically destroyed the car.
 But two points should be made. First, the speeds are not nearly as great as at the super speedways. Second, when a driver has made it to the higher levels of racing including Cup, Indycar, Formula 1, etc. they should be capable of handling themselves both on and off the track in a professional manner. They are earning more money than most know how to spend. They have airplanes and custom motorhomes. They learn to keep themselves in a presentable manner for their sponsors. They should also be able to keep their emotions in check to avoid what could possibly kill another driver. Racing is dangerous enough without being made more so by a driver. This was not a bump and run like at Bristol or Martinsville. There is no excuse for his actions regardless of what Montoya did.
 NASCAR decided to park Gilliland for the rest of the race. But He should be parked for the entire season. He not only endangered Montoya but possibly other drivers on the track. If safety really comes first to NASCAR he should be parked for the rest of the season and put on probabtion for all of next season. You might consider it drastic this does not need a second incident where someone could die. As I always say and will say again, racing is a dangerous sport. We wear helmets, fire suits, gloves, hans devices, five or six point harness, even fire-retardent underwear; cacooned in a roll cage; sit in specially designed seats all in the name of making it safer. The truth is, even with all this and more, equipment racing is still dangerous. And drivers do not need help in hitting the wall. Tires blow out, tracks get greasy, there are plenty of things. Safety always starts with the team, who prep the cars, installed the belts, etc. and NASCAR & track officials. And ends with the drivers.

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