DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Danica Patrick walked away OK after taking a hard hit to the wall in her qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.
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 primary car.
“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 that.”
NATIONWIDE SERIES: Steve deSouza, a former Augustan, is beginning his 14th year as vice president of NASCAR Nationwide Series operations at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
During that time, the Nationwide Series operations has grown to include three teams, while the driver development program has flourished. Among the drivers who have been in the program are Aric Almirola, Marc Davis and Darrell Wallace Jr.