Danica Patrick, David Ragan involved in nasty Loudon wreck
Danica Patrick was having a solid outing in the Granite State during Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the Stewart-Haas Racing driver took a hard hit just past the 200-lap mark of the race.
The driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet was running just outside the top 10, racing hard with Chase contenders Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon as the trio entered the first corner.
As Newman entered the corner under Patrick, he made contact with Patrick’s left rear, sending her car spinning backward into the outside wall.
Patrick’s damaged No. 10 Chevrolet then slid back down the track, where David Ragan made heavy contact with the right rear of her car. The contact ripped the right side of Ragan’s car nearly completely off and sent Patrick spinning violently.
"We were on track to have a potentially good finish today," Patrick said after a quick trip to the infield care center. "It was kind of back and forth with the two- and four-tire cycle that was happening but definitely on the long run with everyone with four tires or with everyone kind of stringing out we had gotten all the way up to 12th.
"It sucks. It seems like nothing ever goes wrong on those days that you’re just trudging along in 27th, you know? It only happens when you’re having a good race."
Patrick said the incident was the result of Chase drivers Newman and Gordon understandably getting perhaps a little too aggressive.
"Especially at this point in the year when you get next to the drivers that are in the Chase and pushing hard I guess it’s probably more likely to happen," Patrick said. "It’s definitely everybody’s feeling, I’m sure, that pressure to get to the next round, and I don’t blame them. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault right there.
"I probably wasn’t quite as quick as I needed to be because I was a little loose on two tires and then the 31 (of Newman) was pushing hard and it sounds like maybe the 24 (of Gordon) got into him."
The incident brought out the seventh caution of the day and the event’s first red flag, as track crews went to work cleaning up the massive amount of debris left on the speedway.
While neither Patrick nor Ragan are Chase drivers, the incident was a close call for Newman and Gordon. Patrick was able to drive her heavily damaged car to the garage, while Ragan’s car was sent back on the wrecker.
Patrick said she voluntarily visited the infield care center, and that it actually had nothing to do with the wreck.
"I’m fine. I came to the infield care center on my own; I didn’t have to," she said. "I really actually have just been more curious about carbon-monoxide levels for like a month now. I’ve been asking about them because sometimes after a race I get a headache.
"So I just talked to the doctor in there and they said that can really happen very easily from just dehydration, so it seemed like a little bit more than that to me, but it makes sense. We sweat like crazy in these cars. I’ve just got to take my hydration game up a notch, I guess, but I feel fine.
"What is not good is that I don’t have a headache but I definitely got knocked. It’s been awhile since I hit like that — probably Daytona last year at the beginning of the year. It always seems like the second impact’s the worst. You’re kind of waiting for the first one and kind of anticipate that one, but the second one with the car, I mean, it tore the entire back of the car off. So it’s a real bummer today."
While both drivers were uninjured in the incident, Ragan was thankful for NASCAR’s safety measures but wished Patrick had done more to keep from sliding back down the track.
"I don’t know what happened to her, but typically when you hit the wall you hold onto the brakes, you lock it down — you try not to come back across the track," Ragan said. "I saw her coming back down and I was trying. I didn’t want to lock my brakes up because I knew I would hit her, so I was trying to just get it as low as I could and just couldn’t get it as low as I needed to. Unfortunate to get involved in a wreck like that.
"Just one of those deals," he said. "I hate it for everybody that works on these race cars. We needed a good finish today, but I wish that she would have locked her brakes up and would have stayed up on the wall."