As a crowd closed in, Patrick got up in the face of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, accusing him of making her spin out both during the qualifying race and during practice a day earlier.
Although Hamlin denied ever running into the Stewart-Haas Racing driver, Patrick still insists there was contact – all while making it clear that she and Hamlin, whom she considers a friend, needed hardly any time at all to put the incident behind them.
"Last year I definitely was assisted in spinning twice by the same person," Patrick said during Tuesday’s NASCAR Media Day activities at Daytona International Speedway. "Was I too loose like Denny said? Yeah, I might have been a little too close, but it definitely makes it too loose when you get hit. But it was a good lesson for me to learn. … It was a lesson, but I really wish I wouldn’t have had to learn it the way I did it. It made it exciting, because I almost didn’t qualify for the 500."
So how long did it take for Hamlin and Patrick to patch things up?
"I’m pretty sure we were laughing that night afterward," Patrick said. "Our buses are parked next to each other (in the driver motorhome lot). Maybe it was the next day, but, yeah, I like Denny. We went on vacation together this winter. And we go golfing with Denny all the time. That’s why I was so mad, because I was like, ‘You’re my friend. What are you doing? I’m on my third backup car.’ "
As Patrick prepares for her fourth full season in NASCAR’s top series, the driver who won the Daytona 500 pole as a rookie in 2013 doesn’t believe she’s changed a lot over the past three years.
"I don’t know if I’m that much different," Patrick said. "This is my 25th season of racing. While 2013 was my first year in Cup it was coming off of seven years in IndyCar and one in the XFINITY Series. That was eight professional years. It’s not as though it was my first time in the big leagues. So I don’t know.
"I don’t feel any different. I maybe take fancier vacations. Actually I might do less. I might relax at home more because NASCAR is such a grueling schedule I actually find more vacation at home than I ever used to."