Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin have played down the multi-car crash they were involved in during practice for the Bud Shootout at Daytona yesterday, and denied that NASCAR's new approach to bump drafting rules caused the accident.
Six cars were heavily damaged when Joe Gibbs Toyota driver Hamlin tagged the rear of Martin's Hendrick Chevrolet and sent it spinning into the group they were drafting with.
NASCAR announced recently that it would remove previous restrictions on bump drafting for the 2010 season and would allow the drivers more freedom to make light contact. As yesterday's session was the first Sprint Cup group running since the rule adjustment, there were suggestions that the crash was a product of the aggressive racing now permitted. But Martin said the incident was a simple misunderstanding between him and Hamlin.
"Probably a case of both of us anticipating something where it caused a flash," said Martin. "It looked like he was going to try to squeeze in on the outside of me, so I made an effort to give him the lane. And, he anticipated to get behind me, not that it wasn't worth it to get in behind me instead. So, if either one of us had just anticipated something else, then it wouldn't have happened."
Hamlin agreed with Martin's assessment of the crash. "I had a huge run going and was going to go to the outside, but decided against it at the last minute," the Gibbs driver told SPEED. "He was courteous enough that he was going to give me the high lane, and I guess when he checked up to give me that high lane, I'd already committed to go ahead and get behind him.
"It was just a conflict of two cars going to the wrong place at the wrong time. We're fine [with each other], it was just total miscommunication."
Martin reckoned that, in this instance, a more aggressive approach might even have avoided the incident, rather than being the cause of it.
"I was making an effort to be on the cautious side and I think Denny did, too," he said. "And, in this particular case, it created a situation where we came together. Where if just one of us had been a little bit wilder, maybe it wouldn't have happened."