[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The Gatorade Duel race #1 certainly didn’t end well at all for Danica Patrick on Thursday afternoon. As she spent the end of the race trying to catch her breath after a HARD hit on the final lap, her car owner Tony Stewart was celebrating the race win.
Jamie McMurray moved down in front of Aric Almirola (her former team mate at JR Motorsports) causing Almirola to get into Patrick, sending her car slamming into the inside SAFER barrier hard enough that all four tires left the pavement.
“It happened really quick,” she said. “When it gets down to the end of the race, everybody’s on each other’s doors really close. That’s what happens. Unfortunately, I was part of it.”
“I’ll go look at it and see if I change something I’m doing out there. Overall I’m just very disappointed we got crashed with two corners to go. That’s not how we wanted to roll into Sunday. We wanted to be just cool, calm and collected with no damage.”
Her team owner and teammate, Stewart, didn’t see the accident but watched a replay after the race.
“It was impressive how she kept picking her way up through the field,’” he said. “The little part I could see her, I thought she did a good job. It’s hard for her right now because she’s trying to gain the confidence of the guys around her. It shows her poise and how she’s trying to make the right decisions to gain other drivers’ confidence right now.”
Patrick emerged from the car unharmed and walked to the ambulance. She was checked at the infield care center and released shortly afterward. Finishing the race in 16th spot, she will (unofficially) start 29th in Sunday’s 54th running of the Daytona 500.
After making a name for herself in Indy Car racing and flirting with racing in NASCAR’s Nationwide and ARCA series the last couple of years, Patrick is now a full-fledged (part-time) NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. She is scheduled to compete in 10 Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas racing in addition to a full-time Nationwide slate.