A solid start to the day for Danica Patrick at Indianapolis Motor Speedway went south as she exited pit road on Lap 68 of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
After completing her green flag stop, Patrick attempted to drive away from her pit stall, but slowed with a plume of smoke billowing from the back of her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
Running in the top 15 for much of the early going, Patrick was forced to take her car behind the wall with a broken rear gear.
Making only her second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis, Patrick finished 30th in her 2013 debut and was in the garage and listed 43rd in the running order as the race hit the halfway mark on Sunday.
She was able to get back on track with fewer than 50 laps remaining, but by then was 29 laps down.
Despite the team’s effort to get the car back on track, Patrick ended the day in the garage, 42nd on the field and 46 laps down to race winner Jeff Gordon.
"It looks like the locker broke in the rear end," crew chief Tony Gibson said. "There is a locker spring and that’s what tells the right rear to spin versus the left rear and both of them together. From what I can see, visually, it looks like the locker spring broke. So nothing would spin other than the right-rear tire. We changed the transmission and all that just to be sure. You don’t see it all that often, but with what we are asking these things to do, dropping off the jack and going at 9,800 rpm, it doesn’t take much to break them. We had a fast car and I’m proud of what the team did.”
"We looked at everything and it looks like the launch was fine. It just one of those things. It’s too bad and these things never happen when you’re having a bad day," Patrick said with a laugh. "We were having a good day. It’s disappointing and the GoDaddy guys built me a really good car. Hendrick gave me great horsepower. We were the fastest car out there at times. We qualified better and had a good car for the race, it just didn’t end the way we wanted it too. The good thing is, I get to come back to Indy and that makes me happy."