News & Media

Truex, Kahne uninjured after violent M'ville crash

April 04, 2011, Mark Aumann,

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Throttle on No. 56 stuck on backstretch sending both drivers hard into the wall

Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne walked away unscathed Sunday from one of the more frightening crashes in recent Martinsville Speedway memory, one that caused a red flag delay of nearly 25 minutes and changed the complexion of the Goody's Fast Relief 500.

The throttle on Truex's No. 56 Toyota stuck open on Lap 221 as he and Kahne headed down the backstretch. Truex first clipped the rear end of Kahne's No. 4 Toyota, and then slammed nose-first into the outer retaining wall at high speed, with flames erupting from under the hood after impact. Kahne spun 180 degrees and hit the wall with the driver's side door of his car, several yards further into the corner.

Fiery crash

Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne were involved in one of the more spectacular crashes in recent Martinsville history.

Truex immediately climbed from his car and ran to check on Kahne, who was also uninjured.

"I'm fine, just unfortunate," Truex said after the required visit to the infield medical center. "We had a throttle stuck wide open -- not sure why."

Kahne was surprised by the ferocity of the crash, which occurred at the shortest track on the circuit.

"From my hit, it was actually a lot harder than I thought I could hit at Martinsville," Kahne said. "So Martin's was probably even harder than that.

"I think you can hit pretty hard anywhere in a race car. It just depends on how it happens and what the circumstances are. Hung throttles are the worst. That's where you usually hit about the hardest. Mine didn't hang, but the other guys did."

Truex theorized some of the rubber from the tires that had collected as "marbles" in the corners might have played a role.

"There's a lot of big chunks of rubber flying around out there," Truex said. "I don't know if one of those got up in the carburetor linkage or what, but just never had any warning."

Truex said it happened so quickly that he had little time to react.

"Everything was fine and I went to let off [the gas] to go into [the corner] and it stuck to the floor," Truex said. "At that point there's nothing you can do. It happens so fast, there's no way you can hit the kill switch or shut the thing off. [You] just lock up the brakes and you are just a passenger at that point."

Kahne's initial reaction was shock at being run into, but he figured out fairly quickly that Truex didn't do it on purpose.

"Usually you get hit here and spin out and somebody's mad," Kahne said. "But in that case I knew that the throttle had stuck or something on Martin's car. He drilled me through the wall and then he followed with his.

Cautions breed cautions

Following the red flag at Martinsville, things got a little crazy on the track with multiple collisions and spins.

"Pretty good wreck. Just a bad day. I thought we were at least going to have a solid run."

Because a section of the SAFER barrier had been damaged by Truex's car, NASCAR officials stopped the cars on the opposite side of the track while crews affected repairs. After 24 minutes and 55 seconds, the drivers were asked to re-fire their engines and after a few laps of caution, the race resumed.

But the tempo and temperament changed dramatically from that point forward. Just two laps after taking the green, Kurt Busch jumped the curb in Turn 3 and crashed into Bobby Labonte, setting off a chain-reaction crash involving five cars.

After that cleanup, the race had barely restarted again when Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears, Paul Menard and Michael McDowell were involved in a multi-car crash, with Menard eventually getting the worst of it.

He wound up 38th, retiring with an overheating engine after spending time in the garage repairing issues with the radiator and an oil line. With that finish, Menard lost six positions in the standings and is now 13th.

Truex's crash was eerily reminiscent of the accidents in the late 1990s at a similar flat oval, New Hampshire, which took the lives of Kenny Irwin and Adam Petty -- before the advent of the SAFER barrier and new generation Cup chassis.

"Thanks to NASCAR and everybody who builds the SAFER barriers and these race cars and everything -- they're unbelievable," Truex said. "Ten years ago, I wouldn't be standing here. [I'm] thankful for that and thankful for everybody working on my [car]."