GoDaddy.com Driver Caught in Multi-Car Wreck on Lap 3; Finishes 38th
Danica Patrick was caught in a multi-car accident not of her making on the third lap of Monday night’s rain-delayed 54th Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and finished a disappointing 38th.
Patrick qualified 29th but dropped to the rear of the field at the start of the event per NASCAR rules as a crash in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel Qualifying race forced her to a back-up car. Patrick drives the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Impala for Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) via a collaborative agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
Unfortunately, Patrick never got the chance to settle into the race’s rhythm. As she entered the first turn on lap three, the front of Elliott Sadler’s Chevrolet hit the back of five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet and sent him nose first into the outside retaining wall.
While trying to avoid the accident in front of her, Patrick and David Ragan made contact and began to spin, causing both to hit the wounded car of Johnson. Patrick’s car suffered heavy damage, and she was forced to drive the garage for repairs.
For more than one hour, the Go Daddy team worked to repair the car, including replacing the entire rear-end, while also fixing cosmetic damage to several portions of her Chevrolet. Patrick returned to the 2.5-mile oval on Lap 65, 62 laps behind the leaders and in 40th position.
From there, she and race strategist Greg Zipadelli decided that logging laps, getting valuable seat time and experiencing live pit stops were all that could be salvaged from a disappointing day.
“Any lap that I turn is progression, that’s for sure,” Patrick said. “That’s why I was so proud of everyone working so hard. They were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position? No. What there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there. We ran in packs for a while. The car is a little bent up. Honestly, it didn’t feel perfect. So as it got later and later in the race, I didn’t want to have an influence on it. I didn’t want something to happen to it or break and shoot across the track.
“I kind of feel like I almost need to put the whole week in perspective; it’s just been up and down. Everything from running good in the Duels to crashing on the last lap, to qualifying on the pole, to running well in the Nationwide (race) to crashing; and a lot of this stuff obviously is out of your control at times. And that’s kind of the exciting time about Daytona and big tracks is that anything can happen and will happen, as we’ve seen. But I learned a lot. I got a lot of experience, and I’m really proud of the Go Daddy crew putting the car back together. They had to do some welding and whatnot. But I got back out there. It felt all right considering the fact that they were welding; I think it felt really good.”
Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 to score his 22nd career Sprint Cup victory and his second win in the Great American Race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished .210 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five. Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Mark Martin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 42 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish the 202-lap race, which was extended two laps past its originally scheduled distance by a green-white-checkered finish.
The red flag was displayed for a bizarre incident on lap 160 when Juan Pablo Montoya exited pit road, lost control of his car on the backstretch and hit one of the jet dryers in turn three. The jet dryer erupted into flames, and the fire quickly spread down the track toward the grass. It took several minutes for safety workers to extinguish the fire and then there was a lengthy cleanup and track repair process. The red flag was displayed for two hours, five minutes and 29 seconds.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Subway Fresh Fit 500k on Sunday, March 4 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.