Pit-wall hit ends strong Michigan run for Martin

BROOKLYN, MI (NASCAR.com) - A strong run for Mark Martin came to an abrupt end Sunday when his pole-winning car slammed into the end of the pit wall at Michigan International Speedway.

Martin, a five-time winner at the track, had led 54 of the 65 laps contested before his No. 55 spun in the wake of a larger accident and slid toward pit road. The blue-and-white Toyota hit the pit wall where it opens to allow access to and from the Sprint Cup garage area, at a sharp angle that generated a large impact and left a crater in the sheet metal right behind the driver's seat.

"I really feel that was a freak accident," Martin said after exiting the track's infield care center. "I'm not sure you can ever completely fix something like that. That was a pretty freak angle that I got at that. I'm not sure what you could do. It could have been really bad if I'd have gotten in that hole a little deeper, where it caught me in the door instead of the crush area back there."

It was scary enough as it was, with the spinning car hurtling toward the pit wall opening. Martin hit at the gap separating the pit stalls of Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, and even No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus shouted over the radio for his crewmen to grab fire extinguishers and help the Michael Waltrip Racing driver exit the vehicle.