David Gilliland speaks out about getting targeted by Danica Patrick
While the incident between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano created a buzz in the NASCAR world this week, it was not the only controversial incident of last Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
After multiple run-ins on the track, Danica Patrick attempted to wreck rival David Gilliland, spinning herself out in the process. Throughout the week, some called for Patrick to be suspended for her actions.
Instead, NASCAR fined the Stewart-Haas Racing driver $50,000, docked her 25 points and placed her on probation until Dec. 31. Kenseth, on the other hand, was suspended for two races.
Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Gilliland told FOXSports.com he has been getting a lot of texts from people asking him what it is like to know NASCAR thinks less of him than Logano. But the Front Row Motorsports driver certainly does not see it that way.
"It’s a whole different situation," said Gilliland. "I just hate NASCAR was in that situation to have to try and make those decisions. It was Martinsville. It was short-track racing. We’ve all lost our temper in the race car. We’ve all done things we probably wish we could go back and take back and do differently. It is what it is."
Gilliland has yet to talk to Patrick after the Martinsville incident, and he does not plan to do so.
"NASCAR drivers aren’t the best communicators," he said. "If they were, a lot of the stuff that’s gone on wouldn’t go on. But it’s all just part of it."
The rivalry between Gilliland and Patrick is nothing new. The two have had multiple run-ins over the year, and for Gilliland it all comes down to a lack of respect.
"I feel like she doesn’t really race me with a lot of respect and so we’ve had our issues in the past," he said. "It’s actually been really good. We’ve talked and it’s been fine. Last weekend when I was passing her and underneath her she just came down and tore my right front fender up. Her spotter went down to talk to my spotter and told him, ‘Hey man, I told her you were on her inside and she just came down.’
"I don’t know exactly what the deal is, but you can’t race like that. You have to have the respect of the people you’re racing around, but you can’t just lay over either. You have to be aggressive. There’s just a certain way of doing things."
While most people look toward the front of the field for the hardest racing in the field, Gilliland argues the racing in the middle of the pack is every bit as intense.
"Racing from 20th to 30th on the racetrack is the hardest racing on the racetrack. Everybody’s fighting for position," he said. "You can’t just move over and let somebody go because you’re always fighting to stay on the lead lap for that run. It makes such a big difference at the end of a race if you end up getting that lap down or not. Everybody knows that and everybody races really hard for that."
While he was frustrated with the outcome at Martinsville, Gilliland ultimately chalked it up to hard short-rack racing.
"Last week, it was Martinsville — good, hard, short-track racing," he said. "A little bumping and banging, and tempers just kind of got out of control. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for sure, not just for me, but for the whole sport."
A spokesperson for Patrick said Saturday that Patrick already had commented on the incident earlier in the week and would have no further comment.