Danica Patrick OK after wreck in Daytona qualifier
Danica Patrick walked away OK after taking a hard hit to the
wall in her qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway on
Her race car didn’t fare quite so well.
Patrick was caught up in a crash on the final lap of the first
of two 150-mile qualifying races, sending her car into the wall on
the backstretch. The wreck ripped the front end off Patrick’s car,
and she’ll have to use a backup car in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
After being released from the infield medical care center,
Patrick said she hoped her backup car might be even faster than her
”I’m just very disappointed that the car got crashed with two
corners to go,” Patrick said. ”It’s not how we wanted to roll
into Sunday. We wanted to just be cool, calm and collected with no
damage. But like I said, maybe that backup car’s fast.”
Maybe, she joked, the accident will turn out to be a ”blessing
in big disguise.”
But Patrick’s race strategist, Greg Zipadelli, was in no mood
for jokes as his team tended to Patrick’s wrecked car.
”Her biggest thing was she wanted to go out there and ride with
a bunch of guys and be in there and earn the respect of them – she
can do this, she’s not all over the place,” Zipadelli said. ”I
mean, I never saw her car move. I saw a lot of grown men couldn’t
keep their car under control. So maybe they need to work on
Patrick wasn’t even sure what happened to cause the crash.
”I just got hit,” Patrick said. ”Just running on the bottom
lane and I’m betting it was the chain reaction from the outside, it
looked like. Guys get so close on the side drafting that they’re
touching you sometimes. I’m sure that at times, maybe in that
situation it was a `hitting’ side draft. It was just probably a
Tony Stewart, Patrick’s team owner for a part-time schedule in
the Sprint Cup Series this season, tried to keep an eye on his
driver as he also ran the first race – which Stewart ended up
”I’ll get a better shot (at) understanding exactly how her race
went when I get to see a replay of the race,” Stewart said. ”The
little bit I could see, I thought she did a good job. There wasn’t
any doubt in my mind she would do that.”
Patrick spent most of the race running just outside the top 10,
working her way up to sixth at one point. She had a close call
early on, darting to the apron at the bottom of the track to avoid
”At times, it was much more calm than I expected, to be
honest,” Patrick said. ”When we got single-file or very steady
two-lane racing it was pretty calm. So I felt like I learned a lot.
I was learning a lot about the side draft and what to do in those
situations, how to get the most out of it.”
Stewart said one of Patrick’s biggest priorities right now is
earning the respect and trust of fellow Cup drivers.
”It’s hard for her now because she’s trying to gain the
confidence of the guys around her that she’s solid and is going to
make good decisions,” Stewart said.
Patrick has committed full-time to NASCAR this year. She’ll run
Nationwide for JR Motorsports, and plans to run a partial Cup
schedule driving for Stewart.
”I feel really feel good,” Patrick said. ”I feel comfortable,
I feel confident, I feel like if things fall our way and I can take
the experience from today into Sunday, I think it will be a good
day. And obviously, things that are out of your control can make it
a bad day, but that’s kind of the excitement about racing.”
Stewart knows Patrick hasn’t yet shown what she’s capable of in
”I think there’s more aggression and confidence in her than
what she showed here today,” Stewart said. ”It shows her poise
and what she’s trying to do to gain the other drivers’