Danica Patrick’s day ended in disappointment after she blew a right-front tire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway 500 and wrecked on the frontstretch at Phoenix International Raceway.
The accident on Lap 185 was further compounded when David Ragan slammed into her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy SS.
"Obviously I blew a right front,” Patrick said. “No real warning. I wasn’t that tight either; I was sliding a little bit. I felt like most of the day I was chasing the rear. It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left. I’m fine.
“The cars and the tracks are so safe. As a driver that’s a nice feeling. It doesn’t change the fact that we aren’t going to get any points really coming out of today, and it would have been nice.”
Patrick qualified 40th. She ran as high as 21st before she was collected in the 26th position. Patrick entered the weekend seventh in the Sprint Cup points standings after finished eighth last week in the season-opening Daytona 500. She finished 39th at Phoenix, with Carl Edwards winning to end a 70-race drought.
“It would have been nice to get these points here, and then … especially off of our eighth last weekend (in the Daytona 500), and then have a decent run in (Las) Vegas,” Patrick said. “Then when they re-establish the pits and the garage area, we would have been in better shape. But, these points in the beginning of the year are so important. We were making progress, but unfortunately, our day ended early."
Crew chief Tony Gibson said the team would look into the issue further.
“The bead (of the tire) looks OK,” Gibson said. “We ran longer than that today earlier with no issue. We didn’t see any temperatures all day long; our tires we pulled off were fine. It’s a mystery to me; I don’t know. Even in practice as hot as it was yesterday, no issues with temps. We got less camber than we ran last year with the old car. It’s a good question, not really sure why. We’ll take the tire back and see if they can dissect it. The bead doesn’t look melted out of it. I don’t know if she ran over something, or what. Tough deal.”
Patrick had one of the hardest hits of her career when her car slammed into the wall at Phoenix International Raceway.
Running 26th with just over 100 laps left, Patrick blew a right front tire coming around turn 4 and slammed the right side of her car into the wall. She careened back onto the track and was hit hard again by Ragan, flipping her hood over the windshield and shredding the left front fender as protective foam flew from the driver’s side door.
Patrick coasted to a stop near the inside wall with pieces of her car strewn across half the home straightaway. A smoking chunk of tire also flew into pit lane.
Patrick climbed out of her car and was quickly cleared by the infield care center.
”Whenever those right-fronts go, they always hit hard because you don’t broadside, you hit more straight on,” Patrick said. ”It took a hard hit both sides and I’m fine, so NASCAR is doing a good job at safety. But no real good warning. The car wasn’t all that tight and most of the (problems) were in the rear, so there was no real vibration that told me that was going to happen.”
Patrick became the first woman to win a Sprint Cup pole and lead green-flag laps at the Daytona 500 last week, sending her popularity into a new realm. She struggled with her car in qualifying at Phoenix, starting 40th, and had to make some major adjustments during the race after reporting vibrations in the rear near the midpoint.
”For me, it sucks to lose the points,” she said. ”Everybody works hard and after last weekend, we just wanted to get these three races to get some solid points to re-establish the garage area. We’re parked in the dirt this weekend, so I really wanted my guys to get into the garage area. We’ll just have to get it at Vegas.”
With not enough stalls at Phoenix, rookie Patrick’s team had to work outside the garage area.