Eric McClure walked gingerly into the Darlington Raceway media center on Friday morning, though he seemed fortunate to even be walking at all.
After his vicious wreck in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway last week – which knocked him out and left him with some painful internal bruising – McClure said he felt grateful to have escaped the crash without further damage.
"I'm doing OK – about as well as can be expected," said McClure, who was hospitalized for two days after the crash. "I'm definitely sore and battling some things this week. It's obviously been a very long week for me and my family. I'm thankful to be here."
McClure said he crashed so hard because his brakes failed. On the replay, it almost appeared as if his car was accelerating, but the driver said that was not the case.
"I had no idea the brakes were out," he said. "...On the restart, it was a slow start and everyone bunched up and I remember having brakes because we were dragging the brake a little bit to try to bump someone or stay in line or get a good start and not lose too much time.
"The next time I hit the brakes was when I saw the smoke, and they just weren't there. It's a little bit of a heart-sinking feeling right there and that created the impression that I was speeding up or going faster than everyone when I hit. Obviously, I was. I'm just glad it wasn't worse."
McClure said he could remember right before the accident, and then "bits and pieces" of the safety workers trying to extract him from the car. He also remembers being on the medical helicopter on the way to the hospital.
The driver now will spend time recovering until he is cleared to return by NASCAR's doctors. The series has a concussion policy that tries to prevent drivers with head injuries from being on track soon after their incidents.
"I would hate to speculate on when I get back in the car," he said. "NASCAR has a great process in place and we're following it in trying to do everything that they say. There's various time periods that are needed for proper healing and things, but once we go through this process and the doctors feel that medically I'm cleared to race, then that's what we'll do."