Gilliland Responds To Criticism
June 21, 2007 | 4:54 P.M. EST
The accident in question took place as Gilliland, the driver of the No. 38 M&M’s Ford, was trying to come onto pit road for service just as Stewart was coming out with fresh tires.
"(Gilliland) checks up at the end of the straightaway, and we run into him," Stewart said shortly afterwards. "It's really, really easy to see it. They've got two different cameras views of it, and he never stuck his hand out of the window (to signal his intentions to pit).
"(Gilliland said) he doesn't know why he didn't do it. That's the part that scares me. At this level, you should know why you're doing the things you're doing. And he's a nice kid. The thing is, I actually like the kid."
In his defense, Gilliland told Lang on her radio show Dialed In, "You know, like I said I’m not a guy who is going to go out and say, ‘believe me believe me’ and try and be that guy. But, you know, my main concern was other drivers and when those kind of statements are made…I was/ I am concerned. So going into Sunday’s race I was a little bit disappointed and kind of in question about how the other drivers felt. In driver’s introductions it made me feel very, very good – at least ten drivers came up to me on their own and said, ‘You’re not worried about what Tony said are you?’ and they said, ‘Do not worry about it, he says something about everybody every week - its somebody else every week, it’s never his fault for anything he does.’ They all said that they have been through it - on that side of it. So that really put that whole situation to rest for myself."
"He’s the guy at the racetrack that never gives anybody an inch. And anytime in practice obviously I mean he was, he misjudged it and ran into the back of me. And I just feel like, he’s the guy I looked up to for so many years when I wasn’t racing in the series and now, to have him say those kinds of things about you... it’s not the best feeling. It’s something that will go on and we will race as hard as we can each week and try to perform our best."
Despite the Saturday afternoon accident, both drivers performed relatively well in Sunday’s 200-lap event as Stewart finished third while Gilliland finished 17th